If you found yourself walking along Main Street in the city of Altus, Oklahoma this month, you may have encountered a brand-new storefront sporting a bright-yellow Bible icon, proclaiming itself The Prayer Store.
To call it a store is perhaps a misnomer; praying is a free service offered by volunteers from fifteen local churches and ministries, and nobody is required to pay to pray. The Prayer Store is supported by donations from members of the Jackson County Ministerial Alliance (JCMA), which exists “to promote fellowship amongst churches and cooperate together to influence our city for Christ.”
But make no mistake about it: Though The Prayer Store claims to welcome “anybody from any walk of life,” this is unmistakably a place for Christian prayer, and while it’s been created by a multi-denominational coalition of local churches and ministries, there’s no room here for non-Christian convictions.
The Prayer Store is just one aspect of the city’s forty-day Altus Prays campaign, led by the JCMA. As part of the event’s Prayer Challenge, participants pledged to pray for a different local organization each day, including schools and emergency services, but also evangelizing ministries and crisis pregnancy centers aimed at discouraging prospective abortions.
The Jackson County Ministerial Alliance and the Nehemiah Initiative will be sponsoring the Pray Around Altus Event on September 21. This will be the 5th year churches have gathered together as a community to pray in this fashion. This year we will be praying simultaneously at 27 different locations and then coming together to form a circle around the Jackson County Court House to pray for God’s protection, provision, and providence for our county and region.
JCMA president Kevin Baker claims that the idea for the event initially began with a drought that he believes was lifted by the prayers of the Christian community in Altus:
It started back during the drought. We came together to pray, we prayed every Sunday night for three years for the rain. Then when the drought broke, we were invited to do a prayer walk around the City of Altus.
Since then, the event has only grown. The forty-day prayer challenge in particular was inspired by Draw the Circle, a book by Mark Batterson that is being strongly recommended to participants on the event’s Facebook page, generating business for the local Whirlwind Book Bar, a secular book retailer.
(Image via Facebook)