On the last day of the most tumultuous year in Spokane’s recent history, Christians from throughout the area gathered to pray.
They asked God for forgiveness, for grace and for redemption.
They implored him to heal their city and guide their leaders.
They prayed for Spokane’s new mayor, Dennis Hession, members of the City Council and other elected officials. They also prayed for former Mayor Jim West – for his health and well-being, and that he continues to seek solace in God.
“Lord, we cry out to you,” they exclaimed. “Bless our city and all its people.”
More than 60 people came together Saturday at Healing Room Ministries near downtown Spokane. With Bibles in hand, they sat in a large circle for more than two hours – singing, praying and glorifying God.
For almost a year, Christians of all denominations, from throughout Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, have been gathering for this monthly prayer meeting. Made up mostly of lay people, this informal group of worshippers hopes to transform Spokane – lower its crime rate, reduce poverty levels and create a safe and prosperous community – simply by praying and humbling themselves before God.
“I come here with a heart to serve God and serve the city,” said Dawn Brozovsky, one of the regulars at the prayer meeting. “It’s not about me. I come here to bring Spokane before the Lord.”
Saturday’s gathering was especially significant to participants, given the recent controversy surrounding the former mayor, who was recalled by voters last month for inappropriate behavior and using the trappings of his office to date young men.
The prayer service was an opportunity to forgive the mistakes of the past and welcome the new year by asking God to create a better future for Spokane. Organizers even invited a couple of elected officials to attend the event, but the only one who came was Nancy McLaughlin, a political newcomer elected to the City Council in November.
McLaughlin, a Christian conservative who didn’t shy away from talking about her faith during the campaign, was embraced by many at Saturday’s event. She stayed through the whole thing, often praying out loud along with the rest of the crowd.
“This has given me a lot of spiritual support,” McLaughlin said.
She anticipates many challenges in the coming year, she said, but knowing that others are praying for her and that “God is in the midst of it all” has helped her realize that she’s not facing all these challenges alone. “I feel empowered,” she said.
Saturday’s gathering began with individual prayers and songs – all said and sung simultaneously by people with closed eyes and outstretched arms. While most members of the gathering remained in their seats, a few either stood up or fell to their knees. Despite the different phrases, verses and sounds, the peal of voices seemed to blend together, creating a meditative hum that filled the room.
After singing two songs – “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel” and “Joy to the World” – worshippers focused their attention on the future of Spokane. They took turns belting out Bible verses and prayers as they asked God to bless their city and to “build up a wall” of spiritual leadership among citizens and those elected to office.
For some, the atmosphere became so charged with fervor and emotion that they could only respond with tears.
At the end of the meeting, after praying for both Hession and West, the people asked McLaughlin to stand in the middle of the circle. About a dozen people gathered around her, placing their hands on her shoulders, head and feet as they blessed and prayed for her. They called her a moral leader and a woman of faith. One participant even referred to McLaughlin as a “princess of God.”
“This has been the work of the Lord,” said Kathy Helgeson, who helped lead the prayers on Saturday. “It’s a way for God to reach down to us and for us to reach up to him.”