This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a prayer gathering called “The Response” in Houston. This event drew thousands of believers to Reliant Stadium on a hot Saturday in August, where concerns about our nation’s significant moral and spiritual decline were on the hearts and minds of everyone present. We prayed for our nation, for ourselves, and for our adversaries.
The night before the event only 8,000 attendees had registered online, so expectations of potential crowd size were no more that 10,000 if all went well. However, by the time the meeting concluded event organizers and news correspondents estimated that attendance was well over 30,000. From my vantage point, the stadium looked like it was two-thirds full most of the day. There was clearly a sense of genuine praise, forgiveness, and reconciliation with participants of all ages, races, and denominations.
Governor Perry spoke shortly before noon and came to the stage with a standing ovation. He spoke briefly about the event’s apolitical focus, saying that “God is a great God, not choosing between any political party or favoring institutions made by man”. He asked us to join him in asking for God’s forgiveness and to work toward building a nation guided by personal morality and biblical principles.
Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida also participated in The Response. Gov. Brownback delivered his message in person and Gov. Scott reflected upon his reliance on Christian principles to direct his life during a videotaped presentation.
The day was filled with uplifting music, prayers of praise, and calls to repentance. One theme that particularly touched me was “generational” prayers, in which representatives from those fifty years and older along with younger participants received prayer and asked forgiveness from each other. It was particularly healing to hear the requests of each for greater understanding and common purpose in living a life of service and righteousness.
There were over 100,000 hits on the website that was streaming The Response live, as people across the nation and the world watched and prayed for our nation. It took a leap of faith and some courage for Governor Perry to attend the event, for which some have criticized him. But, from the perspective of one person who participated in the entire gathering, I can say that lives were touched by his humility in a deep and beautiful way.
In the future, there may be more events like The Response, but it takes a few courageous leaders to be the first to step out and risk criticism for their participation. I am grateful to Governor Perry and others who spoke with humility and candor about their religious and moral convictions at The Response.–Dr. Rosemary Edwards, Chair