The Prayer Ministries department of the North American Division organized a virtual, two-day event that facilitated continual prayer and highlighted testimonies from church leaders and members. The 2021 World Prayer Convention took place April 9-10 on Facebook Live. The convention was hosted by the ministry’s leader, James Black, and his wife Maxine, who enthusiastically engaged with the online audience.
“This convention does not just belong to the NAD, it belongs to you,” said Black. “This is your church. We’re just facilitating the experience.”
The theme for the convention was, “And When They Had Prayed,” drawing from a biblical passage from the book of Acts: “And when they had prayed,the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31, KJV).
“We’re coming together under a theme that I’m excited about. It suggests something [powerful] is about to happen … that’s what happens when you come together,” said Black.
The couple encouraged all attendees to write down three bold, specific matters they’d like to pray about during the convention.
“We want to encourage you to pray with expectation, pray knowing something will happen,” said Maxine. “Our God is big. He can do anything.”
Testimonies and Prayer
The two-day program featured numerous musical performances from recording artists and praise teams, and sermonettes from leaders of all nine unions of the North American Division, and the division’s president, G. Alexander Bryant.
“What a time to come together and pray — whether it’s pre-pandemic, during the pandemic, or post-pandemic — it is always the right time for prayer,” said Bryant. “One of the most powerful tools we have in our [spiritual] arsenal is prayer.”
Bryant shared a personal testimony of a time he and his family were in desperate need of a new car but could not afford to purchase one and did not want to take out a loan. Through what Bryant called a divine chain-of-events orchestrated by prayer, he and his wife were able to purchase a car at a significantly reduce price that matched the precise amount of money they’d managed to save.
“It wasn’t about the car anymore. It was about a God who says, ‘While you are calling me, I will hear and answer you.’ I went home trembling at what God had done,” said Bryant. “The reason why prayer is so important is that He wants to make a personal connection with us. He wants us to know who is on our side.”
Additional testimonies were given by Larry Moore, president of the Southwestern Union, who contradicted COVID-19 in 2020 and also underwent an unrelated medical procedure around the same time. “I thought I was done while that was going on, but I found that God still has something for me to do,” said Moore.
John Freedman, president of the North Pacific Union, shared how he and his family are grieving the loss of his son, who passed away last year. He emphasized the need for coming together to ask for God’s presence. “He will make victory out of all things we have to encounter though prayer,” Freedman said.
Roger Wade, director of church ministries for the Mid-America Union, who also helped produce the prayer convention’s livestream, was involved in a car accident the first day of the event, which totaled his car. “The accident took the car out, but it didn’t take me out, and I know it’s because people prayed.”
A group of prayer leaders and coordinators prayed continually over the 24-hour period of the event during a Zoom call specifically for the prayer requests offered by participants and the virtual attendees.
“This gathering not only has some of the church’s leaders, but it is the assembling some of the greatest prayer warriors in our church,” Bill McClendon, vice president for administration for the North Pacific Union, shared during his sermonette. “The greatest commands of the Bible can only be fulfilled through community.”
Additional sermonettes and greetings were given by Ricardo Graham, president of the Pacific Union; Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union; Maurice Valentine, president of the Lake Union; G. Earl Knight, president of the Atlantic Union; Jim Davidson, executive secretary of the Southern Union; and Mark Johnson, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada.
Testimonies and “seasons of prayer” were given and led by Yvonne Knight of the Atlantic Union; Karen Martell of the Pacific Union; Esther Paul Emile of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada; Leon J. Bryant Sr., prayer coordinator for the Lake Region Conference; Frank Bondurant, vice president for ministries development of the Columbia Union; David Long, director of stewardship and personal ministries for the Southern Union; and lay members Karen Martell, and Don and Ruthie Jacobsen.
“Thank you, Elder Black, for your leadership in bringing us together this way. We’re all part of this family. It’s a beautiful thing that we can pray for each other,” Gary Thurber, president of the Mid-America Union, shared as he began his sermonette.
Empowered Through Faith
The convention concluded with Black sharing a personal testimony about a recent incident with his health. On November 20, 2020, he had a stroke, but did not realize it at the time. However, he knew something was wrong. Three days later he spoke with a doctor who encouraged him to go to the nearest ER. Black was then seen by a neurologist who took scans of his brain. She suggested divine intervention had kept him alive that week.
“When the doctor first entered the room, she said ‘Do you know the man upstairs?’ referring to God. I did not tell her what I did for a living, so I wondered what she was talking about. She went on to say, ‘I’ve been a neurologist for a long time. Based on what I see here, the fact that when you went to bed the night of your stroke and woke up the next morning is a miracle. You were not supposed to wake up that morning or the mornings after. You’re not supposed to be here talking to me.’”
“I don’t know why God loves me so much,” continued Black, “all I know is, I’m going to [keep faith] and trust the process.”