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July 16th, 2010
09:53 AM ET

Change of prayers in the Gulf

For the past 60 years, each Sunday from Mother's Day to Labor Day, Foley United Methodist Church has met for a beach service at the state park in Gulf Shores, Alabama.

This year the service has been interrupted by the oil disaster.

Clean-up efforts forced the congregation from the sandy beach up to a concrete pavilion, "partly due to the relief workers basically taking away our beach. We’re glad they are, but that is the situation," said the Rev. Lance Moore, who has pastored the congregation for six years.

“We’re down there praying every week," Moore told CNN's Belief Blog by phone on Thursday. "It’s important for us to pray every week, every Sunday since we’ve been out there since it has happened. Every day we’re down there, we’re praying for some relief.”

The. Rev Lance Moore baptizes a baby with a shell in cleaner times in the Gulf of Mexico.

On Sunday, the beach service will play host to another event - seeking prayers for the communities hardest hit by the oil disaster. The church will be participating in a National Day of Prayer for the Gulf.

The day of prayer follows past Sundays in the Gulf where legislatures and governors had called for a day of prayer. This week's event was organized in part by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Evangelical Environmental Network, which put out a statement saying:

Thousands of people of faith will join together in prayer for the residents of the Gulf Coast facing the tremendous human impact of the spill, and for God’s creation in the Gulf, which was decimated by this ecological catastrophe. ... Congregations will call in prayer “… For the oil flow to stop; give us the wisdom to end this tragedy. For the people in despair that you would provide peace and hope. For restoration for the sea, the land, and all who live and inhabit them.”

Following the big news Thursday that BP successfully attached a new cap to stop oil from spewing into the Gulf, Moore says their prayers may be different this week.

“We’ve been praying since Mother's Day for help, and maybe this Sunday it’ll be a prayer of thanksgiving,” he said.

You can read more about the day of prayer here.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Environment • Prayer

soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Johnny

    I don't think I've ever reported abuse on every single comment in a thread before. You guys have really got to get your issues worked out. We've been pitted against each other to occupy our minds when we could be doing something great!

    It's good to see communities get together on the beaches. We need more neighbors talking and doing the right things.

    July 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
    • Prayer !=Progress

      Not religious...but Amen to that!

      July 16, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  2. Jdubba

    Sure, that works....praying for the oil to stop.....you have got to be kidding me......Cuckoo, Cuckoo. Mindless sheep worshiping the biggest scam, called god, perpetrated on the human race since we evolved into animals that could reason. Brainwashed people putting their hopes in an imaginary being that nobody has ever seen or can prove that he exists, other than in their own minds.. Might as well be the Wizard of Oz or a head of lettuce named Ralph, like Re-run worshipped on that old sitcom " What's Happening".

    July 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  3. Iamurme

    It would be interesting to be in a foxhole under heavy fire with all of the opinionated people in this discussion. When we are faced with real danger, all of our opinions and beliefs fade away. Next time you are being rescued by a first responder, make sure to check their politics and religious affiliation before letting them help you. Next time you rush your child into the ER, only let doctors who agree with your politics and religious preferences work on you kid. Sounds silly doesn't it? We are all sitting here remote from the disaster spouting our opinions and judging those in the disaster area, which is doing worse than nothing. I, for one am very grateful that God does not do our bidding. Let's all leave this discussion and do what we think is the next right thing to help, what ever that is. Turn off a light. Plan a consolidated errand trip to reduce gas consumption. Set the AC up a degree or two. Be mindful that large numbers of small acts make a big difference.

    July 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm |
  4. Mike G

    There's no evidence that praying has ANY effect - people are deluded.

    July 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • andre2p

      Oh no, I just left a tooth under my pillow. Was I wrong too?

      July 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  5. andre2p

    Why do we need to pray? Is God blind, or do we believe he made a mistake and are trying to correct him? If he is perfect, why would we want him to change something he allowed?

    July 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
  6. toddfielder

    I asked the Devil to make this oil stop flowing, and good 'ole Lucifer answered my prayers...

    July 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  7. Orin

    There is a lot of assumption here that just because you pray, you are not taking action. Of course any one wanting to criticize these people can find examples, if you were actually close to the situation. But you would also find examples of people putting their faith into action to help the Gulf region, with prayer being just one component of that. People of faith are often some of the first non-governmental people to mobilize after a disaster to lend aid. It is presumptuous for any of us to think we have all the answers. God Bless the efforts to clean the gulf and restore the peoples livelihood.

    July 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • Toby

      Simply put, prayer is not action. Praying may be comforting, but it in no way influences events in any way. This has been conclusively demonstrated in actual, double blind controlled studies that prayer has absolutely no effect whatsoever on events. One may wish to THINK it does, but this is simply wishful thinking. So, pray if you want-but do not suggest that you are actually doing something meaningful or worthwhile because of your prayers.

      July 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • Frogist

      Toby, I think Orin may mean that to assume that people who pray do no also take action in other forms like volunteerism, charities, etc. is incorrect. Many who take action also pray. The two are not mutually exclusive.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  8. Greg G

    PRAYER: How to do absolutely nothing and still feel like you're helping.

    July 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
  9. Coastaltrans

    Excuse me, Mat, but would like to finally set something straight....Democrats can be Christian too.....you don't have to be a Republican to be Christian.........I once told my sister, who is a teabagger, that I had a personal relationship with the Lord and had accepted him as my Savior,,,,,,,,she immediately started emailing me right-leaning emails......I quickly emailed her back and told her she had misunderstood.......I said I was a Christian, NOT a Republican...........I think she was shocked......don't think it had occurred to her that you could actually be both,,,and don't get me started on "family values".

    July 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm |
  10. Mantra

    God helps those who help themselves.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
    • foxjazz

      Mantra, which God?

      July 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Patrick O.

      Sounds like the god of nothingness.

      July 16, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
    • JennyTX

      So if it works, who gets the credit? See how silly this is?

      July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Tacoma

      This is not actually in the bible or to my knowledge any other religious text which focuses on worship of a God.

      July 16, 2010 at 7:26 pm |
  11. cat

    Whom exactly is their praying harming? I'm not an overly religious person by any means, and yet I commend these neighbors (I'm from the Gulf Coast) for joining together in a way that brings peace amidst the anger and tragedy. The act of praying won't stop the leak or clean the marshes and beaches, but the act of uniting for a common good and leaning on others in your community will do wonders emotionally. Gulf communities and families need support, and if praying on the beach is a way they find comfort, then why criticize them? I can promise you that many of these same people on the beach praying are the folks who fish in these waters, who own restaurants and other businesses being harmed by the spill, who have donated money and time (through the cleanup or by donating food the the food bank, for example), and who love their home.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
    • foxjazz

      Religion in general causes harm in general. Prayer is a form of exercising that religion, even if it is "free" to do so. It spreads bad education, and promotes the art of lying. (lying to your self, as well as others) goes hand in hand.

      People that find "comfort" in prayer should find more comfort in action.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • cat

      Foxjazz: Sorry, but you're wrong. The distortion of religion–the use of religion for one's own gain or in the name of hate–causes harm. Religion in itself is an idea–a belief system–it cannot cause anything.
      Many scientists and people of great intelligence are also people of faith. For every terrorist or Crusader or abortion clinic bomber who does evil in the name of religion there are probably hundreds of others who do GOOD in the name of or as a result of their faith. Actions cause results, of course. Action–cleaning oil, rescuing animals, lending money or other goods to those who are out of work because of this spill–will yield results. What you fail to realize is that some people are not physically or financially capable of doing such. There are AWFUL humans who claim to be religious and who are unwavering in their beliefs, yet there are equally awful people who have no faith. Why does it bother people that some people pray? I am spiritual, but I don't believe in most aspects of typical religion. Yet I have no problem who have ZERO faith. If prayer and religion make a person kinder, more helpful, and more loyal, then GREAT. If having no faith and relying only on science does the same for another, then GREAT.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
    • David Johnson

      The religious, who pray, often start believing god is conveying some special knowledge or understanding upon them. They start wanting to dictate right and wrong to the rest of society. They are soon not content to live thier lives, but want to tell me, force me, to live their lives also. I don't believe any religious person, the Pope included, has any special knowledge or powers of discernment. They are as dumb as me in matters of faith.

      July 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  12. MawMaw

    All of you non-believers who don't pray is the reason this country is in the shape it's in. I'd be willing to bet money that you voted for change too!!

    July 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm |
    • foxjazz

      MawPaw, it's the believers that cause strife, not unbelievers. Unbelievers usually don't care one way or the other.
      The reason the country became great in the first place is a credit to unbelievers. Or don't you study history.
      Thomas Pain (a great founding father) was a big part of that. Maybe it's time to start re-reading your history.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:59 pm |
    • Prayer !=Progress

      Non believers aren't the cause of Americas problems. Its possible to be a good person, to do the right thing, make good choices, help your fellow citizen, help the world, without being religious. Its also possible to be a horrible person and hide under the veil or religion – the worst type of hypocricy.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Amanda

      Well, then why don't you just pray for God to make the country better? If prayer really works, that should take care of it, right? I mean, do you even realize that your own statement disproves the very "point" that you're attempting to make?

      July 16, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  13. pd3310

    If praying was the answer, why'd it take four months to stop the leak?

    July 16, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      There is a time difference between here and Heaven.

      July 19, 2010 at 6:13 pm |
  14. majormanure

    Prayer: Something that makes one feel they are doing something when they are actually doing nothing. These groups should get off their knees and go out and clean up any spilling they come across. That will produce results instead of singing Kumbaya. Another example of religion getting in the way of progress.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • JennyTX

      Well said, thank you.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:32 pm |
    • Shrike

      Your definitely right there, Major Manure!

      July 16, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  15. Iamurme

    Prayer hurts nothing other than the feelings and egos of those who don't pray. Praying for God to fix or prevent disasters like this is praying amiss. If that kind of prayer worked, war, illness, poverty, hunger, etc would have been ended long ago. Praying for the knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out is prayer that works. Say that prayer, listen, get up and do the next right thing.

    July 16, 2010 at 1:24 pm |
    • foxjazz

      In your opin you think people that don't pray have big egos. People that do not pray are more humble than the ones that do.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Iamurme

      ...Anyone who claims to more humble than someone else, isn't.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:07 pm |
    • JimCC

      The problem with that is that some people will then think that whatever they decide to do after that prayer is God's will, and therefore not subject to question. It's the absence of doubt that makes religion dangerous. Faith and reason are incompatible.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:19 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Iamurme

      You said, "Prayer hurts nothing other than the feelings and egos of those who don't pray. Praying for God to fix or prevent disasters like this is praying amiss. If that kind of prayer worked, war, illness, poverty, hunger, etc would have been ended long ago. Praying for the knowledge of God's will for us and the power to carry that out is prayer that works. Say that prayer, listen, get up and do the next right thing.

      A lot of people pray for the knowlege of god's will for us. They all come to different conclusions. You have thousands of different Christian denominations. You have 4 other great religions in the world. All praying, all getting different answers.

      I think this shows that prayer doesn't work in any instance. Wouldn't god tell everyone who asks, the same thing? LOL

      July 19, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  16. rob

    action > prayer

    July 16, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • foxjazz

      Bayer works better.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  17. verify

    Strange, I've been wishing on a star for this too! Not sure how I will thank that star, though.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  18. dwerbil

    Silly is as silly does.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  19. Mesa Mick

    “Cryin’ don’t help and prayin’ won’t do you no good”. Led Zeppelin’s When the Levy Broke

    Get with it folks, a little less prayin', a lot more cleanin' up and a lot more regulatin' offshore drillin' is what's needed now...

    July 16, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • camela

      pray do work if you believe in God and know that God will take you though something to bring you back a blessing

      July 16, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
    • foxjazz

      I think believers are cruel for the most part. They don't mean to be, just can't help themselves.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • Paul

      Do not believe if you do not want to believe. To think that we are the most intelligent beings with the greatest power is ignorance.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @camela

      You said, "pray do work if you believe in God and know that God will take you though something to bring you back a blessing"

      Okay camela, if prayer works pray that all the oil magically flows back into the ground from whence it came. You may assemble others to pray with you. Thousands if you like...

      If you are experiencing an adversity and pray about it, you start looking for "a blessing". Looking, you will probably find it. It is sort of like getting a sucker after getting a vaccination at the doctors. Actually, it is all in your head.

      July 19, 2010 at 1:34 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Paul

      You said, "Do not believe if you do not want to believe. To think that we are the most intelligent beings with the greatest power is ignorance."

      We don't know if we are the most intelligent beings with the greatest power. The universe is very big. The chances of other civilizations, far more advanced than us, is very high.

      July 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm |
  20. mat

    I diont think the left remembers how to pray.

    July 16, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
    • Mesa Mick

      And that's all the conservatives know how to do. Prayin'...Really good action plan there buddy, that should stop future deep water blow-outs and clean up that oil soaked cesspool we now call the Gulf. Oh, and let's not forget tax cuts for the rich – That'll help too...

      July 16, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
    • CupofTea

      My dear Matt, I am a liberal and I pray every day - throughout the day! God's lovely country and it's wonderful people are all his children - no matter their religion.

      Reach out build! Help the people of the Gulf. We are an amazing country and we can bring a sense of goodness and warm feelings to the Gulf - even when we disagree!

      God bless, my dear Matt.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • foxjazz

      I just wonder why they need a new prayer when all the old once never worked?

      July 16, 2010 at 1:47 pm |
    • Ronald Dauphin

      Maybe they have been praying for the wrong thing.Be honest the Crabs, Shrimp, Oysters Clams and any other shellfish was not placed in the water for man to eat to begin with. These were placed in the water for filtration by Gods law.Second oil and gas was not placed in the earth for the purpose that man is using it for. It is to stabalize the earth.Man is receivng just what he asked for, On top of this he has the nerve to sray dangerous chemicals in the water saying this will breakup the oil.Oh well it seems like man continues to think that he is God.

      July 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Greg G

      Dancing around the campfire in a funny mask while high on peyote didn't make it rain either....

      July 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Kathy

      God is evident, I am just sad all people do not feel the most wonderful feeling in the world and the feeling to know our Creator is always the one true Comforter! He gives us free-will to take care of what HE has created for all to enjoy. IF praye, thanksgiving and loving your enemy is harmful – then I feel really sorry for those who want just do not get it! To blame everything on "Belief" in GOD instead of holding people accountable for the mess man has created is beyond real intelligence.

      July 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm |
    • Paul

      I am on the left and I pray all the time.

      July 16, 2010 at 2:59 pm |
    • Joel3

      I would be that guy you consider on the "left." I am a Christ follower and pray everyday....every single day. Please stop with the assumptions that democrats or liberals don't believe in God and His Son. You folks on the "right" do not "own" God or the Bible and quite frankly you all sound extremely arrogant in that assumption. We are brethren no matter what party affiliation, how about we start to act like it?

      July 16, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • NewOrleanian

      As someone previously mentioned – ignorance is SO powerful, but, not more powerful than the Almighty God. If you know God, you know that things don't come when you want them; but, they certainly come on time. God is the reason every living creature exists and He is all-knowing (of our thoughts, our future – everything). Be careful when you say that prayer does not work because He just might teach you a lesson (in your own life). I am a living witness that He lives and ALL things are possible through Him.

      July 16, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
    • roz

      @Ronald.... Where in the bible does it say the oil was put into the earth to stabilize it?

      July 16, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • tbrnotb

      That's because many of us on the left try to accomplish things instead of sitting around praying and telling everyone "it's in God's hands now." Get off your asses and do something instead of sitting on a beach praying. God helps those who help themselves.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Momma

      I don't bellieve that is a fair comment. Some people pray, some people take physical action. Both are for the better of us all. From someone who does both...on the left.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:39 pm |
    • Mark

      The left know that prayer is a waste of time and accomplishes nothing.

      July 16, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
    • Anita Heuss

      You know it is really hard being a true Christian now days, one that believes to giving to the poor, loving people whether they go to church every Sunday or even worship a different God on a different day, knowing that Christ meant what he said when he said it is easier to get through the eye of a needle than to be rich and get into heaven. We are getting it from both sides. Our "Christian" brethren are bringing our salvation into question if we don't vote a straight Republican ticket and the far left lump us in with the far right and laugh at our beliefs. Fortunately for me I know that Christ never promised me a wonderful life, just that he would be here with me now and I will be with him forever more.
      I am praying for everything and every body from the Gulf to the Ice Caps, from the communities being harmed by the spill to the BP executives that brought this down on to themselves and everyone else including the President and politicians running our country to the people in other countries and the politicians that run them, even if they are evil dictators. They are the ones I pray for the most because they need it the worst! Oh yes, I'm gonna pray for all of you to, whether you want me to or not!

      July 16, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Ronald Dauphin

      You said, "Maybe they have been praying for the wrong thing.Be honest the Crabs, Shrimp, Oysters Clams and any other shellfish was not placed in the water for man to eat to begin with. These were placed in the water for filtration by Gods law.Second oil and gas was not placed in the earth for the purpose that man is using it for. It is to stabalize the earth.Man is receivng just what he asked for, On top of this he has the nerve to sray dangerous chemicals in the water saying this will breakup the oil.Oh well it seems like man continues to think that he is God."

      Yep, shell fish are an abomination, just like gays to a god who doesn't exist. LOL.

      So, if the oil wasn't there, then the earth would not be stable? Sorry guy. That is silly.

      Spraying chemicals to try and break up the oil? Using antibiotics to cure infections? Inventing new fertilizers to grow better crops? We think we are god! ?

      We have and are working on ways to improve our lives. Get over religion. There is no sky daddy.

      July 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Kathy

      You said, "God is evident, I am just sad all people do not feel the most wonderful feeling in the world and the feeling to know our Creator is always the one true Comforter! He gives us free-will to take care of what HE has created for all to enjoy. IF praye, thanksgiving and loving your enemy is harmful – then I feel really sorry for those who want just do not get it! To blame everything on "Belief" in GOD instead of holding people accountable for the mess man has created is beyond real intelligence"

      Except, all the religions of the world, the Muslims, the Jews practicing Judaism, the Hindus, the Buddhists and the thousands of different Christian denominations all get that "most wonderful feeling in the world". Every member feels their god is the one true comforter. But your feeling is extra special, right? LOL

      If god is all knowing, then we don't have free will. If god is all knowing, then everything must be predestined.

      Google "How many people have been killed by Christians since biblical times".

      July 19, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.