High Time to Pray

Wherever I go, I hear people saying they’re praying for us in New Orleans. I thank them and then gently suggest how they pray. “Pray big,” I say, and sometimes hand them a little business card we’ve printed up with a suggested prayer: “Father, you love this city. Jesus died for this city. You have many people here. Satan has held it too long, Lord. Take it back. Do a new thing in New Orleans, Lord. A God thing. A big thing.”

Routine praying for this troubled city is not going to do the job. Case in point.

“Five teenagers shot dead in Central City” was the headline on Sunday morning’s front page. Subtitle: “Violence is almost beyond explaining.” Three 19-year-old boys, one 16, and one 17 were gunned down Saturday around 4 a.m. No clues, no suspects. The sheer carnage makes police believe it was drug-related.

A few paragraphs from the story:

“Up and down nearby streets, where most houses still bear the telltale spray-painted X’s left by rescue workers after the Aug. 29 storm, neighbors gathered on porches and discussed the gruesome crime and the recklessness of adults who, they said, should have been minding the victims.”

“‘How could you let a 16-year-old go out at that time of the morning?’ said James Williams, 26. ‘And for (the perpetrators) to do something like this to the children is a shame.'”

“Sitting on a stoop across Danneel Street from the spot where the SUVslid to a halt, Clarence Joseph peered at a patch of bloodstained asphalt and evoked religious prophecy to describe the early-morning carnage.”

“‘The Bible said that if you don’t teach them at home, the world is going to get them,’ he said. ‘And that’s what happening.'”

“Even Bryson, an officer with 26 years at the New Orleans Police Department, choked back emotion as he detailed the crime for reporters at a late morning news conference. ‘I’m a father, and I couldn’t imagine getting this news today, the day before Father’s Day,’ Bryson said.”

Friday, a sheriff’s deputy was killed in nearby LaPlace, and several police officers have been shot in the surrounding communities in recent days.

What we have here is a full-fledged crime wave. All the violence from only half the population.

I wonder. Did we think the devil would go quietly? That he would turn loose his iron grip on this city without a murmur? That he would give up so easily what he won over so many years? We know differently now. Bible students will recall that sometimes when God’s man ordered the demon to leave its victim, it obeyed, but only with loud screaming and resistance.

I hope you will take this as our personal request for more prayer, deeper prayer, more intense prayer–for this city and its leaders, for the people and their protectors, for the churches and their ministers, and for the rebuilders and the volunteers who are always here in large numbers.

My wife suggested I share with you something on prayer I posted on our website a couple of years ago. It was the gist of a summertime of Wednesday night prayer lessons I did at the First Baptist Church of Kenner. Please feel free to pass it along or reprint it or to use in any Christ-honoring way.


“When you don’t know how to pray, pray anyway.


When you don’t feel like praying, pray anyway.


When dullness sits on you like a vulture, and you can’t muster enough enthusiasm to change channels, much less to pray, pray anyway.


When you see no need to pray and no reason to intercede for those about you, recognize this as a sign of impending danger, and pray anyway.


When you’ve grown spiritually lazy and feel that you’ll never be able to pick up your Bible and read it the way you once did, pray anyway.


When you don’t understand what the big deal is about prayer, and you think it’s overrated because it never did you much good, pray anyway.


When you’re too tired to remember your own name, and you know God will understand if you don’t pray, pray anyway.


When you’re embarrassed to be back before God confessing the same sins and admitting the same failures, come on and pray anyway.


When you’ve been unfaithful and you know it and you feel that burden of guilt that makes you want to run and hide under the porch, pray anyway.


When the nagging voice of the enemy keeps telling you there is no God and even if there were, He’d never have anything to do with a nothing like you, pray anyway.


We can bless ourselves immeasurably by rescuing our prayer life from bondage to our emotions and circumstances. There is no time and there are no conditions in which prayer is not necessary, not helpful, and not the right thing to do.

Let us pray.”

If you are praying for us, please go to this article at www.joemckeever.com and drop down to the end of it and tell us you are praying. Add any comments you wish, or even type in your prayer for others to read and be blessed by.

This city and your brothers and sisters in this city need your prayers as never before. Thank you.

–Joe McKeever, Director of Missions, Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans

30 thoughts on “High Time to Pray

  1. Dr. Adrian Rogers made a statement at a revival event @ FBC/Columbus in the 70’s that I remember to this day…”prayers that get to heaven are prayers that start in heaven.” God is concerned about N.O., and He will never forsake those that pray BIG as though lives depend on it, because they do!

    Praying BIG, because we have a BIG God,


  2. I lived in New Orleans for 20 years and the company I work for is located in NO, so I have a personal interest in this city and I am praying BIG that God will do what only HE can do. I am praying for revival in this city. I am praying that others will stand in agreement with me that God will restore what the canker worm has stolen and that NO will come back a different city than it was before Katrina. In order for much of this to happen, we need God fearing men and women in public office and the people of NO must bind together and pray and see that this happens. You cannot wait for it to happen. You must make it happen. Reminds me of a little saying that I pray people will adopt and live by: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do, and what I should do, by the Grace of God, I will do.” God hears the crys of His people and HE will answer those crys. We cannot be complacent in this day and time and just talk about the way things are and how we wish they were different.. It is time for people to take action. Speak it as though it has happened. Speak it into being. Father, I thank You that New Orleans is a CHANGED CITY. That it is a safe place for people to live and raise their children. I thank You Father that people who will not abide by the Law will be punished…..that they will realize ahead of time there will be consequences for their behavior. I thank You God for peace, for restoration and for healing for this city and every person in it. In Jesus Name. Amen

  3. Thank you for reminding me to make my prayers even BIGGER for N.O. and the needs there. I do pray daily for you, the pastors and the city, but you prod us to remember how puny our prayers can be when we have such a BIG indescribable God, who is wanting to pour out his blessings.

    V Hendricks of Blacksburg, VA

  4. Joe – Praying Big is keeping the “Main thing – the Main thing”- Praying also for wisdom and physical strength as well – blessings to you my friend –

  5. Joe, We thank you for this splendid article and reminder for praying. We do pray for you and the city, and more than that Barbara has had the disaster training and planning to come and lend a hand of helping when our church group comes down later this year. We love Joe and appreciate the significance of your ministry.

  6. I am praying BIG for New Orleans and with thanksgiving for you and the other ministers and volunteers. Here is a beautiful prayer from the Book of Common Prayer that we use in my church:

    Heavenly Father, in your Word you have given us a vision of that holy City to which the nations of the world bring their glory: Behold and visit, we pray, the cities of the earth (especially New Orleans). Renew the ties of mutural regard which form our civic life. Send us honest and able leaders. Enable us to eliminate poverty, prejudice, and oppression, that peace may prevail with righteousness, and justice with order, and that men and women from different cultures and with differing talents may find with one another the fulfillment of their humanity ; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

  7. Judy and I will increase our INTENSITY and will also cover you with our churches special prayer and fasting time this Wednesday. I’m also adding a new prayer card for New Orleans in our Intercessory Prayer Room. (I’ll be there at my regular time on Wednesday from 7:00 to 8:00 AM)

    Sorry we missed you at the SB Convention. Please tell your Wednesday pastors group that Dr. Frank Page is indeed a conservative who teaches from God’s word.

    I was an active Deacon when the personnel committee presented him. His first words where “I love Jesus

  8. I’m praying and sharing this article with other brothers and sisters in Christ. Thanks again for sharing with us.


  9. Thank you for reminding me to PRAY BIG. Wow! How you have blessed me in all of the stories and news reports that you have shared with me over the months before and after Katrina. Just to know that you sometimes have to get away to be able to cope with the depression that comes upon you after dealing with “all of the work” that has to be done day after day. I pray for you, Joe McKeever, the many pastors, Mayor Naguin and other city officials as you minister to those around you and the challenges that you are faced with. So sad when you have to read about the deaths of these young men and others. We know that “God is in Control” and we can’t understand it all.

  10. Bro. Joe;

    On June 9, 1989 my big prayer was, “Lord, whatever it takes for my family to know you as their Lord, I am willing, I only ask for your Grace that I might bear it.” The associate minister at the church told me to take it back because it would cost way too much. I was desparate to know that my family would love My Lord. I continue to pray big every day, “Lord whatever it takes and I ask for your Grace to bear it. I just passed the 17th year of praying for my family. Now it has been so long that I just have to know, what will it take for them to turn to the Lord.

    Yes, the cost indeed has been great. Now I will add my home state to my big prayer. “Lord whatever it takes.”

    In these 17 long years, I have learned that

    a person can hang in,

    hang out,

    hang on,

    Or hang it up.

    I am hanging on to Jesus.

    It is indeed time to call upon the Lord in our “Day of trouble.”

    Gloria Twiggs Psalms 9:9-10 and 50:15

    I walk by Faith and Live in His Amazing Grace,

    because He is Faithful and His Grace is Sufficient.

  11. Edgewater BC in NO, LA…an amazing little church doing BIG things with God in New Orleans (pre and post Katrina)…has a great ministry statement.

    “God give us this city and do it in such a way that only You get the credit for it.”

    We’ll continue to pray BIG!

  12. I needed to read this article today and I appreciate you and your newsletter. I will continue to pray for N.O., the leaders, the police, the ministers and their families and all the volunteers there helping rebuild your city.

  13. Thank you for the reminder to “Pray Anyway!” Sometimes we think, what difference can “I” make? The BIG picture is too much to handle but if I learned any lesson from Katrina it was… “When I can’t see His hand.. to trust His heart!” God’s heart is faithful and true and HE will see us through this battle if we are just faithful to Pray BIG to our BIG God!

  14. We need to SUPER SIZE our prayers for New Orleans. Still can’t imagine what the

    residents are going through.

  15. Praying deeply for a city I love dearly. Your columns help keep it before me and many others here in North Louisiana. God’s richest blessings on you and all the church staffs in BAGNO.

  16. Thanks for reminding us to continue faithfully praying for New Orleans, especially when discouragement hits like the news of these kids death. Satan truly is all about killing, stealing and destroying — but we serve a God who is BIGGER! We love you and your family Dr. Joe and will continue to pray for you all.

    All our love, Jack and Holly Gilbert

  17. Bro. Joe, You have written so much in the journals since Katrina hit, but I really appreciate your sending this one too. We should not forget the folk in the New Orleans area and you are right, we should be praying harder than ever for God to bring out of all of this, a Big Miracle. Thanks for the way that you assist those of us who are not living this to understand some of it. I will try to pray as hard and sincerely as I can.—–Thanks for the inspiriation you are.

    Irma Glover

  18. I’m praying for New Orleans! Thank you for sharing the good things that God is doing there. God is truly at work to accomplish His will.

  19. Bro. Joe, I have said ever since Katrina that God had you in New Orleans for “such a time as this.” Thank you for all you have done in the Kingdom. My family and I may have floated out of New Orleans but out hearts are still with the city we grew to love. God has blessed us in more ways than I could have ever imagined since Aug. 29, 2005 and I am confident that He will use servants like you to shape a new New Orleans. We have constantly kept the churches and ministers in New Orleans in our prayers and we will never stop praying for our BIG God to do BIGGER things than anyone could ever imagine.

  20. Joe, we were in your area for a few hours over the weekend and saw only a VERY small amount of the damages done. My heart hurts for everyone, and I don’t think I could have stood seeing more. My prayers – sometimes just plain begging -are with you all, and I pray specifically for God to keep you healthy in every way! You are the right man, in the right place, at the right time, serving in His plan. Never forget that! May His richest blessings be upon you and Margaret.

  21. The scriptures tell us that our Heavenly Father never slumbers nor does he sleep – He is ever aware of His children and their needs, and He is always seeking the lost. We are praying for you that God will do exceedingly abundant more than you ask or think.

  22. Thanks Brother Joe…I pray this particular story is spread all over this world…and folks will heed the call.

    We need A LOT of help…spiritual, physical, mental,emotional and even financial…and it all starts with prayer…2 Chronicles 7:11-22.

    “Lord, Your eyes are on me…help me keep mine on You…and Lord, please…heal our city”

    But even in the midst of satan’s attacks as of late…there is an excitement spreading through our church FBCNO and I’m sure others in the area…God has already started and is going to do an awesome work in New Orleans like we have never seen or beleive could happen! Every one who lives here and those planning on coming to work…pray up then be ready to be used!!!

    God blessed us when he brought you to New Orleans, Joe…He knew you would be a willing vessel in this time. Thanks, Wes

  23. Dear Lord: Please help New Orleans as Only You can. You are God, and we are Your Servants; I pray for these Your people to feel Your Presence and seek Your Presence every day. I pray for revival to break out and prevail; I pray the devil will be defeated and Your people will live in peace and Your Hope. Amen.

  24. Thank you for the reminder to pray BIG! I was so moved by the article that I am going to share it with my congregation tonight at prayer meeting and then pray! No Bible study tonight but just to hit our knees in prayer before the Lord for NO and all our other needs.

    Dear Lord: Thank you for the reminder to pray continually. I pray that you will continue to be with the people of NO and the Gulf Coast who have suffered so much since Katrina. I ask Lord that revival and a return to you will break out in NO and all over our nation. Return us as a nation to that peace that passes all understanding. Lord, I ask you to hear our prayers for our brothers and sisters and rescue us! In the name of Jesus I ask, Amen.

  25. “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” The many who have given over their lives to addictions and are living a life from hell–killing police and teenagers–are desperate miserable souls in need of a Savior. I’m praying for a supernatural intervention in N.O. like never before. I pray for safety and security for Christians living and volunteering there. I pray for a way to safely make a difference in the lives of the people there. I pray for hope and confidence as Christ’s work continues. I pray that the people will hunger and thirst for the Word of God and seek out answers there. I pray for the group from Wichita Falls we are sending soon to make a difference. I pray for travel mercies, for smooth organization, and for lives to be changed. Above all, I pray for love because LOVE NEVER FAILS.

    Grace and peace to you in N.O.


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