Douglas Howe, Guest Speaker at this year’s Annual Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, is a local boy made good, having been inducted into the Burbank “Walk of Fame” in 2012. He was a strategist and a public speaker in the successful presidential campaigns of George W. Bush. He’s owned businesses and is currently a managing partner of a major merger and acquisitions firm. He’s directed non-profits, and directs a foundation that provides executive level coaching “to those who need it the most but can afford it the least.” He’s been a social entrepreneur navigating today’s brave new world of social media. And he’s a family man. (Wife Denise also grew up in Burbank.)
Douglas is also a Pastor, and clearly one who has faced a variety of high-level challenges in the rough-and-tumble world. For him, the power of prayer is always something he wants near him. And in his address to the audience he shared “4 Prayers We All Can Pray,” regardless of our particular circumstances:
- 1. Lord, send me. Rev. Howe wants us to find our life’s true mission, confident that our lives will catch fire. We’ll want to volunteer. We’ll pray, “Lord, send me.” Jesus said, “Come follow me and you will be fishers of men.” He told his disciples the heart of his mission for them, and they turned history upside down. Dr. King said, “I have a dream!” He put aside his nightmare experiences and instead shared his vision of a world that could be, a vision that makes today’s world much more colorblind than before. “We’re going to do what we don’t know how to do yet because the vision is so clear and compelling,” says Rev. Howe.
- 2. Lord, bend me. Rev. Howe much prefers to be bent to God’s will than broken against it. So he prays to be more teachable, and to recognize his own blind spots. “The Bible says, ‘He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it,’” explains Doug. “When steel is heated, it can be carefully bent,” he continues. And sometimes that is the purpose of the “heat” we sometimes feel in our own lives.
- 3. Lord, mend me. Rev. Howe invites us to ask ourselves, “Am I still being driven by the hurtful places of the past?” He continues, “No one may know about them, but you can pray to God. He can take life’s hurts and challenges and turn them to good. He can help you be your best self going forward.”
- 4. Lord, tend me. Rev. Howe recommends we ask God to take care of us as we go and to take comfort in these words of Scripture: “Lo, I will be with you always.” “When the Holy Spirit comes you will receive power.” Believers need that power to be effective witnesses–not only to tell our story, but to have it stand up under the world’s cross-examination.
To be captured by a compelling vision, to have our blind spots removed, to be healed of past hurts, to always have someone that has our back: these things are dearly desired by many, yearned for so ardently that it becomes a sort of prayer, even in the absence of belief. But does belief make a difference? The only satisfying answer will come from a personal encounter with God made possible by an open mind and an open heart.