Skip to main content

Detroit, it's time to pray!


Charles Ellis. J. Drew Sheard. E.L. Branch. Wilma Johnson. Nicholas Hood. Robert Brumfield. Edgar Vann. Charles Adams. Andrew Merritt. Marvin Winans.

These pastors stand at the helm of some of the largest, most influential churches in the city of Detroit. These leaders and the congregations they serve have fought the good fight of faith and have impacted thousands in this area for decades, but there is one battle they have not yet fought together—the battle for their city.

City-wide morale is at an all-time low; apathy, political corruption, public school dropout rates, and negative reporting are at an all-time high; crime, poverty, and illiteracy are continuing to cripple the city; the decline of the city population is not showing any signs of relenting; vital city services are dwindling; and regional cooperation is being regarded, now more than ever, as a four-letter word.

Not only have all of these downward trends cast an ominous shadow on the city, but they have sucked hope out of a traditionally proud and defiant populace. Many have asked if there is any hope left for a turnaround in the city of Detroit, and many others have answered unequivocally in the negative. With all the problems the city has endured and still faces today, complaints have been more plentiful than answers lately.

The time is now, however, for the aforementioned pastors and many others to begin providing some of these long-needed answers by initiating a unified, ongoing, focused, city-wide prayer movement. These leaders have the golden opportunity to leverage successes at their individual churches to influence change in the city they serve and to lead an entire metropolitan region to the peaceful shores of reconciliation. Prayer movements have been started before under lesser-known leaders in the city, but the influence of these front-line pastors, combined with the dedication of other pastors in the city and infused with the power of the Holy Spirit, can truly take this initiative where it needs to go. Detroit's renaissance will hinge upon the support of leaders from the entire metro area, but it first requires cooperation from pastors in the city of Detroit to set the tone for everyone else.

Prayer is the only elixir for what ails the city of Detroit, for she has suffered from a forty-two-year-old illness, caused by the race riots of 1967. At the risk of sounding like an excuse maker, it must be said that the decline that has taken place in the city was caused in large part by those unfortunate events of over four decades ago that damaged the very DNA of the entire metropolitan area, bringing an onslaught of spiritual diseases that no politician, businessperson, casino, sports team, or sports stadium has been able to alleviate.  

Rather, the comeback this city has desperately needed for so many years will have prayer as its impetus because, as the apostle Paul admonished to two of his churches, “…we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places,” (Ephesians 6:12) and “…the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4) When this city returns to prominence, it will be due neither to the policies of one particular elected official, nor to the vitality of one specific city business, but it will be because city pastors sacrificed notoriety, money, and membership to unite in prayer, the only weapon in the Christian arsenal that can be used to combat forces more powerful than human will or common sense.   

Only a shift in the spirit realm will motivate a renewal of hope and a restoration of pride within the hearts of the citizenry that will move residents and visitors to refrain from littering and polluting our beautiful city. Only a spiritual shift will inspire enough self respect within each resident to maintain his or her yard, be accountable to his or her neighbor, and, in so doing, reverse the evident decline of once-beautiful and prestigious neighborhoods. Only a spiritual shift will help young, college-educated professionals see the value of remaining after graduation to render service to and raise a family in the city of Detroit, rather than taking their talents elsewhere. Only a spiritual shift will eradicate the city-versus-suburbs mentality in favor of regional cooperation in all business and government initiatives.

Only a spiritual shift will motivate registered city voters to take an active role in the political process, rather than sitting aimlessly on the sidelines election after corrupted election. Only a spiritual shift will create a sense of urgency in the consciousness of city voters, moving them to no longer tolerate corruption and ineptitude in any facet of city government. Only a spiritual shift will cause these things to happen, and Detroit's most powerful spiritual leaders--not Dave Bing, City Council, the Charter Commission, Warren Evans, Robert Bobb, or the city's representatives in Lansing--must be the ones to initiate it.

The time is now, the opportunity is prime, and the mandate is clear. Detroit, it's time to pray.


  • Mark, Atlanta Evangelical Perspectives Examiner 5 years ago

    Could it be that some of those folks are not actually Detroit's "most powerful spiritual leaders," rather they are simply Detroit's "most powerful leaders?"

    There is much humility in relying on the transforming power of the Gospel. If said leaders would come together and pray as you have said this would be the start of showing their helplessness and need for Christ for the community.

  • Marcus A. Cylar 5 years ago

    Mark, thanks for your comments. My mentioning these pastors is not to call out, criticize, or question their spiritual leadership. I know a few of these leaders quite well (one of them was my former pastor), and I know them to be great for the kingdom. I only evoke their names with links to their church websites to show how great the potential is for citywide transformation if they all come together with their resources and influence. Pentecost happened because everyone was on one accord and in the same place, praying. If we can replicate that here in 2009, we can experience Pentecost again!

  • Pastor Satterwhite 5 years ago

    Amen, to that!!! Too many opportunities have passed us by to come together and Pray as a city, when the "I's" did not like that it was the little "u"s that was given the vision to do it. Don't apologize Pastor Marcus, folk know what they are or are not doing. Preachers, This city is dying. And we still have not learned. Come out of the pulpit, and let's Pray in One Accord just , like thay did in the Upper Room. Right now, is an opportunity to do what's right. Those who are supporting candiates for Mayor or City Council. what are you saying to them? Are you telling them what God has told you to say? Or are you trying to be in the World and in the pulpit at the same time? God has called his prophets to speak the truth to the Leaders of this world. Yes, Pastor Marcus, We need to Pray, and cover each Gate in the City with the Blood of Jesus. The Children are crying for The Leaders to Come Together and Pray Right Now in One Accord!