Speaker: Humility 'critical ingredient' to successful prayer


In this file photo, retired Gen. Roger Brady speaks at Mid-Atlantic Christian University on Sept. 28, 2011. Brady returned to MACU on Tuesday for the first-ever community prayer breakfast hosted by the university.


By Reggie Ponder
Staff Writer

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The keynote speaker for a community prayer breakfast on Tuesday challenged attendees to reject a self-centered perspective and to instead find joy and purpose in faith and community.

Gen. Roger Brady, speaking at the breakfast hosted by Mid-Atlantic Christian University in Elizabeth City, suggested humility is a “critical ingredient” in prayer.

”In order to pray you have to come to the conclusion that it’s not about you,” he said.


Brady, a retired four-star general in the U.S. Air Force, painted a bleak picture of current American society, saying it’s dominated by “the cult of the individual.” As a result, many Americans experience isolation, alienation and loneliness, showing little sense of purpose beyond their own happiness, he said.

Ironically, that obsession with happiness has not made Americans happy, Brady said.

“America today is not happy with itself,” he said. “We are seemingly at odds with the world and at odds with ourselves.”

The crowd of more than 50 people at Tuesday’s prayer breakfast included law enforcement officers, city officials, church leaders and MACU faculty.

Brady spoke about his parents’ generation as one that lived through World War I, a flu pandemic, the Great Depression and World War II.

“They did it largely though a spirit of community that said ‘we’re in this together,’” he said.

That spirit of community has largely disappeared, and a key reason, according to Brady, is that people have forgotten God. As a result, he said there is declining participation in civic organizations and religious bodies, chronic loneliness, and an increasing number of people whose self worth is determined by the number of likes on their social media posts.

American society has become detached and uncommitted to anything outside itself, leaving people lonely and alienated, Brady said.

“Not knowing each other, we become distrustful of each other,” he said.

But he added, “the good news is it doesn’t have to be this way.”

Brady said God always offers a relationship with him that is based on covenant: “Be my people and I will be your God.”

God promises a rest to those who trust in him, Brady said. It’s a rest that comes in the midst of the very real challenges of life “because we have surrendered our future into the hands of the creator of the world,” he said.

Brady commended the prayer breakfast participants for being part of a community.

The community prayer breakfast was the first at MACU in a number of years, and perhaps the first ever at the university. Asked about the event Tuesday morning, former MACU President Clay Perkins said there had not been a community prayer breakfast on the campus at least since before his presidency.

MACU President John Maurice said MACU felt it was important to host a community prayer breakfast.

“God shapes the world by prayer and the more prayer there is in the world the better the world will be,” Maurice said.

Ronnie Woolard, a professor at MACU, led a prayer for the community’s leaders. He prayed that leaders will show a spirit of humility, resist the abuse of power, be responsible for their actions, and aspire to be “servant leaders” in the example of Jesus.

Elizabeth City Mayor Bettie Parker, who offered a prayer for the community at Tuesday’s breakfast, also brought greetings on behalf of the city. She also said she appreciated the spirit of friendliness in the community.

Others offering prayers were Elizabeth City police Chief Eddie Buffaloe, who prayed for law enforcement; MACU senior Symphony Mullins, who prayed for the community’s youth; and the Rev. Craig Stephans, who led prayer for the spiritual health of the community.

Stephans noted his prayer was “first and foremost a prayer for more prayer.”