WASHINGTON (BP) — God birthed a tsunami of prayer through the imprisonment of pastor Andrew Brunson in a Turkish prison because of his faith, the pastor told hundreds of leaders gathered at a pre-National Day of Prayer dinner in Washington May 1.
“I like to say I rode a wave of prayer out of Turkey at the right time, when God had finished what He wanted to accomplish through my imprisonment,” said Brunson, who faced life imprisonment before his release in October, 2018, after two years’ confinement.
“Your prayers brought me out,” he said. “But there was something greater that God was doing. There was a tsunami of prayer crashing into Turkey.”
National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force President Ronnie Floyd interviewed Brunson and his wife Norine at the 6 p.m. dinner at the Museum of the Bible, attended by hundreds of faith leaders. Brunson will speak and lead a prayer segment at the NDP national observance today at 7:30 p.m. in Washington, following a multitude of local prayer gatherings across the nation. “Love One Another” is this year’s theme, based on John 13:34.
“We will have thousands upon thousands of gatherings across the United States tomorrow,” Floyd said Wednesday evening, “even while we’re here in the nation’s capital praying and seeking the face of God for the future of our nation.”
National Day of Prayer was trending on social media this morning, with #nationaldayofprayer and #love1another at number one on Twitter, garnering more than 86 million impressions approaching 3 p.m. Eastern Time, Floyd told BP. Floyd appeared on FOX News this morning to discuss the day’s events. Among them, Prestonwood Baptist Church’s worship team from Plano, Texas, sang this morning in the White House Rose Garden.
Last night, Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen attended the pre-NDP dinner on behalf of President Donald Trump.
“I wanted to pay a debt of gratitude to all of you for your steadfast support of this tradition of the National Day of Prayer and for your efforts year after year to mobilize a unified public prayer for America,” Pence said. “I know that your prayers this day and the prayers of millions of Americans all across the nation will reach Heaven, His holy dwelling place, and the prayers of Americans on the National Day of Prayer will be a blessing to the United States of America.”
Pence recalled Brunson’s release from Turkey, where officials reportedly arrested the Presbyterian pastor because of his faith but charged him with espionage and undermining the constitutional order of the state. Brunson’s “witness, testimony and faith impacted people all over this country,” Pence said, “and really all over the world.”
Brunson explained that the Muslim religion is strong in Turkey, the former seat of the Ottoman Empire.
“I believe God was setting up a confrontation.” Brunson said. “I think we’re going to see that harvest. I expect to see it in my lifetime.” His wife Norine likened the situation to the children of Israel, who gathered the spoils of war after victory in battle. “Not only did Andrew come out,” she said, “but there’s going to be just a massive turning to the Lord in the coming years.”
Brunson struggled to remain faithful to God during his confinement, he said at the dinner, facing greater challenges after every triumph.
“For years I had run after the presence of God, and I had tasted it many times. And then in prison it’s as if it all left,” Brunson said. “‘Where are you God?’ God is silent. I don’t sense His presence. I know there was grace as I look back.
“I was so weak, without grace I would not have come through,” said Brunson, who spent time in solitary confinement before being transferred to a maximum security facility. “But it wasn’t a felt grace, and this really surprised me. I was really broken again and again.”
For a time, Norine was allowed to visit him for 35 minutes each week, the two of them separated by glass.
“I tried to pray according to the words of promise the Lord has given us specifically through the years,” Norine said. “I tried to align myself with those, and claim those, and pray through them.”
Norine envisioned herself the “daughter of a King” going into prison “to visit a son of a King,” Brunson said, “and she would lift her head up high.”
“Every week Norine would tell me people are still praying for you and in fact it’s growing,” Brunson said. “Knowing you were praying for me is really what took me through from week to week.”
Throughout his struggles and crises of faith, Brunson kept talking to God and seeking His face, he said, “returning to Him again and again.”
Among lessons learned is the primacy of communion with God, Brunson said, referencing the Greatest Commandment.
“The fundamental need that we have, the fundamental and most important thing is that devotion, intimacy” Brunson said. “And Jesus said that’s the most important thing [in His Word]. And yet so often we drift from it.”
The dinner included a brief devotional led by K. Marshall Williams, pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in Philadelphia, who ushered worshippers into a season of prayer.
“We’ve got to bombard the throne of God with prayer,” Williams said. “I’m calling on every Christian today, that we stand up for Jesus and call a nation for repentance that we might be the people of God in these last and evil days.”
Prayer leaders were Bob Bakke, teaching pastor of Hillside Church in Bloomington, Minn.; Kie Bowman, senior pastor of Hyde Park Baptist Church and The Quarries Church of Austin, Texas; Grant Ethridge, senior pastor of LibertyLive.church in Hampton, Va.; and Byron Paulus, president and CEO of Life Action Ministries in Buchanan, Mich. and OneCry, a nationwide call for spiritual awakening.