Each hour of each day of the year, someone specific at one of 30 Chattanooga-area churches is praying for the city and its needs.
The idea, which started this month, is an initiative of the Chattanooga House of Prayer. Known as chattHOP, the organization is dedicated to fostering daily prayer and to prayer's impact in bringing God's kingdom to Earth.
Called Project 29:7, it is based on the biblical verse Jeremiah 29:7, which states, "And work for the peace and prosperity of the city where I sent you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, for its welfare will determine your welfare."
Micki Ann Harris, interim director of chattHOP, said an important part of the initiative is the organization's partnership with churches.
"The idea is not just something [we are] doing," she said. "We're partnering with churches to cover the city day and night with prayer."
Currently, the 30 churches in the partnership are taking a day per month, with individual intercessors, as available, taking an hour at a time to pray both for the individual church's needs and the needs of the city.
The needs of the city, according to Harris, are compiled by chattHOP with input from community leaders and divided into seven spheres of influence -- media, education, church, business, government/crime, family and the arts.
The community leaders, she said, will be asked every 60 days if needs have changed, and every 60 days the churches will gather to celebrate and offer feedback, testimony and prayer.
Since chattHOP began with a multitude of statistics in hand -- divorce and crime rates, for instance -- its hope is that a year's time will reveal measurable, positive results, according to Harris.
Dale Hall, pastor of Sacred Heart Mission, said Christians believe in the power of prayer and believe prayer can change things.
"When we met up," he said of the kickoff luncheon that launched the project, "one of the things they shared was of other cities doing similar projects. They noted that [other cities] saw improvement in certain areas that they activated the churches to pray in. That was encouraging."
William Eavenson, pastor of Mission Chattanooga, said the unity -- from the luncheon meeting where old and young, black and white, Pentecostal and Presbyterian were together -- also excited him.
"Churches by and large tend to be about our projects and our corner of the kingdom," he said. "When we're all working together, when we're in a common mission, it unleashes" great power for "caring for the city and revealing the name of Jesus."
If a different person takes one hour at each of 31 churches per month, the initial prayer involvement in one month will be 744 people.
"Together, we're excited about the whole idea of unity, of being united for prayer for the good of the city," said Harris. "We're also excited about raising a culture of prayer in our churches, of covering the city night and day in prayer, of witnessing transformation."
While chattHOP is one church short of having a different church for each day of the month, it next hopes to reach 50 churches, then 100 by the end of 2013.
The idea, said Harris, is that churches will double up and triple up on the prayers.
"We're going to be continuing to ask for churches' involvement," she said. "We're not going to stop. We're asking every church who can."
Hall said the prayers fulfill a need for the churches, too.
"I feel like people need to be activated," he said. "They want a project, they want to do something, and this is something that anyone can do."
"It's a great opportunity for churches all across the city," said Eavenson, "to join hands together in working for the most important" issues of the day.
Contact Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...