Meanwhile, citizens of Georgia finished off an official Weekend of Prayer, three days designated by Gov. Sonny Perdue for praying in support of President Bush and his administration.
Around the country and the world, people of faith are praying for opposite results. Since the conflict with Iraq gained steam this fall, both sides of the war debate have vigorously engaged their supporters as "prayer warriors." Their vigils, services, and even websites have forged a new prayer battle--with one side supportive of the president's policies and praying for him and his administration, the other antiwar and praying for peace.
Last weekend in Alabama, Governor Bob Riley, who stirred controversy earlier this year for holding after-hours bible study sessions in the capitol building, urged his constituents to act as prayer warriors in the battle against Iraq and in the battle in the U.S.
"If we are going to save this country, if we are going to re-establish that belief in God, it's up to us," Riley told attendees at the Christian Coalition's "Friends of the Family Celebration."
In his proclamation declaring March 14 through 16 the official Weekend of Prayer, Perdue declared, "We know that any battle is not won by might, but by His spirit, through His love and with His strength. May the brave men and women, whether on the front lines or back here at home, be filled with His spirit and touched by His loving hand."
Though the Georgia governor's proclamation is the most official sanctioning of prayer as a response to the impending war, many independent groups have cropped up to pray for the president and for U.S. victory in a war with Iraq.The president himself seems to have taken notice, and believes that prayer is having an effect. "One thing that's really great about our country is there are thousands of people who pray for me - who I'll never see, be able to thank," Bush said in his March 6 press conference about the Iraq conflict. "But it's a humbling experience to think that people I will never have met have lifted me and my family up in prayer. And for that I'm grateful. That's, it's been, it's been a comforting feeling to know that is true."
The Presidential Prayer Team explains that readers should "Pray for the President and his advisors as they consider which course of action to take regarding Iraq. Pray that God's hand will continue to move in the timing of any decision to be made."
The site is similar to others springing up around the Internet. PrayforGeorgeWBush.com calls itself a "non-denominational, non-partisan ministry dedicated to lifting up President George W. Bush in Prayer as he serves this country as President of the United States." It provides a complete list of "Prayer Action Items," a list of suggested things to pray for, including, "Pray that President Bush & those in his administration would have Godly discernment and wisdom in dealing with the decisions which face them" and "Pray for the salvation of our enemies, for the surest way to end their reign of terror is to see their hearts changed."
Other sites encourage fasting for the President. FastforBush.com asks readers to sign up for one day a month to pray for Bush, Vice President Cheney, and the Cabinet. Another site, Fast for George W. Bush, originally founded to encourage fasting for the president, has expanded to include fasts for "bipartisan unity, our nation's leadership, and our economy," The site sends reminder emails two days before each registered user's intended fast and claims more than 14, 000 fasters.