From the very first days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, many East Texans say they felt drawn to prayer. From the steps of a courthouse, to the church alter, prayer it seemed was the right thing to do. "How all that works I don't think anyone is for sure", says Grace Community Church Senior Pastor Gary Brandenburg, "the scripture is clear that we are to pray at all times and especially during these difficult times that we have been through as a nation."
But during a time of war when so many have different opinions about what is right, what do believers pray for? "There was some struggle with that," says Jeffery Wilson, Senior Pastor of Tyler's First Christian Church, "there was some struggle about what do you pray for? Everybody wasn't ready to run off and go to war automatically in the beginning. We needed to pray about how we even prayed which is kind of an irony in it's own right to seek God's presence and God's wisdom...Help us God how do you pray now?"
In almost every prayer service since the war began, American Soldiers, their safety and success, were the focus. But those kind of prayers, even today says local pastors, should be specific. "I assume God is with our troops," says Brandenburg. "If God is everywhere and if there are those who call upon the Name of the Lord among our troops then God is with them. I think prayers that are more effective prayers are Biblical prayers. God give them discernment, God give them love, God give them patience, give them joy."
In the end, while the war, our soldiers and even our president were the subject of many prayers in East Texas, most pastors point out that the need to pray, especially in time of crisis is more about our own individual needs. "We take our heart, we take our concerns, we take our passions to God and we lay them before God and I think if we are praying faithfully what we are saying ultimately, God Your will be done. We care, we have our vested interest but help us see what is your will," says Wilson.
"I'm speaking from a Christian perspective, but I think everyone at a time like this begins to reach beyond themselves and say man this is a problem that is way to big for us so we need to find some kind of comfort, some kind of help somewhere, I thinks that's what happens at times like these", says Brandenburg.
Because there have been so many "times like these" since September 11th many pastors also say that more people than ever before are more open to faith, prayer and the consideration that spirituality does play a role in their lives everyday.