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Inspiring the Next Generation of Praying Kids

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Author, latest, A Prayer for Our Country (Zonderkidz, 2022) / 62nd U.S. Senate Chaplain since 2003 / USN, 27 years, two-star Admiral, Chief of Navy Chaplains; the only African American to serve in that position, Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit Medal, Meritorious Service Medals, and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals / alumnus of Oakwood College, Andrews University, North Carolina Central University, Eastern Baptist Seminary, Salve Regina University, and U.S. Int’l University; master’s degrees in divinity, counseling, and management and doctorates in ministry and psychology

Married to Brenda; three grown sons, Barry II, Brendan, and Bradford

Julie Blim - 700 Club Producer

A PASSION FOR PRAYER AND CHILDREN  

When asked why he wanted to write a book on prayer for young children, Chaplain Black recalls his own childhood. “I was blessed to have a Christian education, along with my seven siblings, the support of a church, and a mother who took us to morning and evening worship. We even received nickels for memorizing Bible verses. I have a passion for children and Christian education,” he says, referring to those formative influences and how critical they are as a framework in society. “As Billy Graham said, ‘We’re just one generation away from agnosticism.’”  

The suggestion for him to write A Prayer for Our Country originated with an editor at Zonderkidz after the highly-controversial events of January 6th, 2021 at the nation’s capitol. Words matter, they agreed, and as Scripture tells us, “Death and life are in the power the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

The editor told the chaplain that we needed something similar to what he prayed publically after those events to connect to kids. “The prayer just flowed,” Black says.   

The petitions of the book’s prayer start with God’s command of nature, “Eternal God, who commands the sun to appear…” and immediately moves to gratitude for all things: breath, strength, friends, family, creation, provision, then to praying for others in need, such as the hungry, hurting, and hopeless, while additionally being aware of how our own words can hurt or heal.

The prayer continues by acknowledging that God is greater than any challenge we have, and asking Him to show us how to live so this country will be a better place:

“Great God, we admit that we face big problems.
Sometimes we feel scared, hurt or even lost.
It’s easy for us to be overwhelmed by the work we need to do. 
But we know that You are always with us. Give us wisdom to understand that You are stronger than any challenge we face.”

Finally, it ends with asking God to cause the shadows of night to flee. Chaplain Black says that his aim is to teach children – and all who read the book – what to pray for and how to prioritize it. The hope for future generations, Black says, will not be found in our government or social programs, but in the character of God Himself, and ultimately, in eternity. He refers to the new heaven and new earth described in Revelation 21: 1-5, and the truth that all believers will forever be with the Lord in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.     

HIS OWN STORY 

As the Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Chaplain Barry Black, is a spiritual leader to the Senate lawmakers, their families, their staff, and other people who work on the Senate side, roughly 7,000 total. He performs traditional pastoral duties, offers one-on-one counseling, and leads weekly Bible studies.  

Early in his life, Black’s tenacious mother, Pearline, loved God and taught him the same life lessons. When she was baptized, she was pregnant with him. God told her she needed to do something for her unborn child. She prayed for him throughout his life and kept telling him that God created him for something special. She worked hard to give him a Christian education and instilled in him early a love for the Bible.

He was raised in inner-city public housing in Baltimore, MD, where crime and drugs were rampant. Chaplain Black’s father was a long-distance truck driver and rarely home, so his mother was the spiritual leader of the family. When his father was home, he drank excessively and rarely spoke.

Later, he spent months in jail for not making court-demanded child support payments. Chaplain Black says his father felt like a stranger for most of his life. He and his siblings would pray that their father would stop drinking and become a responsible parent, and he did indeed come to the Lord.  

Despite these challenges, God gave Chaplain Black a love for learning, a gift of memorization, and clear public-speaking skills. He had good relationships with his siblings and strong mentors. Black accepted the Lord when he was ten and can’t remember a time when he didn’t want to preach. He loved the library, church, reading, and worshipping God.

These pursuits kept him out of trouble and on the right path; he continued these disciplines through his academic and military careers. Chaplain Black is thankful for his problems. Without them, he wouldn’t have discovered God’s infinite capacity to make a way when there was no way and to do exceedingly above all that he could ask or imagine.  

 

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