The Hobby that Sparked a National Prayer Movement
- 2005 11 Aug
Many people take up a hobby after they retire. But unlike most post-career hobbies, retired Navy Captain Bill Hunter’s love for bronze sculpting sparked a unique online ministry that today inspires millions of people worldwide to pray daily for America and its leaders.
After the contentious 2000 election, Hunter knew that President Bush and the government would need a lot of prayer. He made a coin depicting America’s first president, George Washington, kneeling in prayer at Valley Forge, and he gave a coin to everyone in his Sunday school class to remind them to pray daily.
A pastor friend encouraged Hunter to think bigger than their church. The two took their seed of an idea to an advertising agency, which helped them plan and launch an Internet ministry that would live in perpetuity – focusing on the office of President rather than the person temporarily residing in The White House.
Their initial goal was to enlist 1 percent of the population – 2.8 million people – in an online prayer ministry that would launch in November 2001.
Then terrorists attacked on September 11, 2001. The Presidential Prayer Team (PPT) launched its website seven days later, on September 18, and it was 500,000 members strong within two weeks. By the time the planned launch arrived, PPT had grown to a million members and was ranked the world’s number one religious website.
Today it publishes weekly prayer updates at www.presidentialprayerteam.org that are prayed over by more than 3 million participants. It also offers a site for children at www. pptkids.org, prays for thousands of military personnel through its Adopt Our Troops initiative and has undertaken several special projects such as Pray the Vote for the 2004 elections and several Virtual Prayer Rallies.
Hunter resumed retirement soon after launch and, while he remains on the Board of Directors, he no longer is involved in PPT’s daily operations. For greater financial efficiency, the advertising agency was replaced with in-house staff, headed by President/CEO John Lind.
“We make an interesting case study on harnessing the power of the Internet for ministry – complete with big mistakes and enormous successes,” says Lind. “I’m not aware of another prayer ministry that exists entirely online. We update our website weekly with prayer requests for our President, our leaders, our nation and our Armed Forces. To remind people to come to the website, we send an email, which gets forwarded to an average of 4.7 other people. Our members primarily are Christians, but from all denominations and across political party lines. We rely heavily on viral marketing for our growth. We even do most of our fundraising online and via email. That’s pretty unique.”
But the real success of any ministry is in the hearts and lives of the people it touches.
“I prayed through [scripture verses on the PPT website] and was truly humbled and blessed,” writes PPT member, Mary. “I feel it is a privilege to hold our leaders up in prayer. My son is serving our nation in the Army in Iraq. As a mom I find it very comforting to turn to God for my son's protection. I am also praying for another soldier and his family through [PPT’s Adopt Our Troops initiative].”
“My children get a lot out of Presidential Prayer Team for Kids,” writes PPT member, Lynn. “We use this for lessons in Bible, History, Current Events, Social Studies and Civics in our home schooling.”
“I found a small piece of paper at my workplace one day and it had the website address for The Presidential Prayer Team,” wrote PPTmember, Shirley. “Ever since I opened this site about the godly heritage of America and our President, I felt peace.”
“I have found that whether concentrated prayer is for the Church or the Nation, that I have a deeper love and devotion for whatever I prayed for. I stand up more and am heard more and I fight more for those things for which I have prayed,” writes PPT member, Loretta.
While the President is the focus of PPT’s prayers, PPT is not connected to any political party, government entity, interest group or church. Even so, President Bush is aware of PPT. “He has said on many occasions that he and Mrs. Bush appreciate the millions of Americans who pray for them,” says Lind. “He has said that prayer is the greatest gift you can give a person.”
PPT will celebrate its fourth anniversary this September 18.
“We’re launching our fifth year by asking believers to help enroll a million new PPT members,” said Lind. “President Bush has many important decisions he makes on a daily basis. He needs and appreciates God’s wisdom as he makes them, and he says that prayer sustains him. Looking ahead, we will pray for any person who holds the office of President, and our prayers will continue to focus on that person’s protection, wisdom and insight – that God will rule in that person’s heart, decisions and activities. We also will continue praying for our nation’s leaders and our Armed Forces.”
To join The Presidential Prayer Team, visit www.presidentialprayerteam.org or call (800) 295-1235. And don’t forget to encourage others to join the team as well.
PPT’s Four Years of Leadership
September 2001 Launch
December 2001 One million membership
February 2002 American Inspirations radio program launch
September 2002 President Prayer for Kids site launch
February 2003 Adopt Our Troops initiative launch
May 2003 2.8 million membership goal reached in just 600 days
February 2004 First Virtual Prayer Rally launch
June 2004 Pray the Vote initiative launch
January 2005 PPT Ambassador Program launch
June 2005 One millionth Troop adoption
July 2005 200th edition of website
September 2005 4th anniversary & launch of Enroll a Million campaign