DOBSON — Local pastor Larry Phillips will be in Washington, D.C., next week to open a session of the U.S. House of Representatives with prayer.
He is scheduled to open the chamber on Thursday, Nov. 14, and said the prayer may be televised on C-SPAN.
Phillips, who serves on the Surry County Board of Commissioners, called the invitation a “once in a lifetime opportunity,” noting that a recent impromptu request to pray with a legislator got the ball rolling.
“I was extended the invitation to be the guest chaplain for the House of Representatives through Congressman Howard Coble’s office,” Phillips said Wednesday. “It came about after I’d attended an event in Washington on behalf of the county.”
Earlier this year, Phillips traveled to the nation’s capitol to attend a bipartisan Congressional Economic Development Summit.
“During the summit, I’d spent some time with (Coble) during the meeting, talking about funding for the advanced manufacturing program at Surry Community College,” he said. “At the close of the meeting, I asked whether he would mind if I prayed with him. We started talking about the guest chaplain’s program and that’s how it came about.”
Phillips, the pastor of Midway Baptist Church, said the invitation is a “tremendous honor.”
“Basically, what I’ll do is open the House session with prayer,” he said.
A separate honor, Phillips said he is not unaware that his words will be preserved for posterity.
“I’m preparing the prayer in advance, because we have to submit it to them via email so it can be put in the Congressional Record,” he said.
While Phillips said recent partisan brinksmanship in the chamber may have some Americans chaffing at Congress, no one is above the power of prayer.
“It’s serious,” he said. “I’m going to be standing before a legislative body involved in very important work for the American people. The words I say I consider going from my heart to God’s heart. Because whether on the local, state or federal level, no elected official is smart enough to do it without His help.
“It’s not the people who pray that bother me, it’s those who think they can do it apart from prayer.”
For Phillips, praying for Congress is nothing new.
“I pray for them all the time,” he said. “I consider prayer part of the historic role faith has had in the American tradition. Prayer is not grandstanding or religious window dressing, it is an opportunity to pray that God will open their hearts.”
The Mount Airy pastor said his prayer will ask that they remember the founding principals of America.
“I will ask that God gently point out to them that they’re accountable not only to the people, but to Him for their decisions,” he said. “I intend to ask Him to guide them along the principals consistent with the original intent of the Constitution. I think some of them may have forgotten that.”
Phillips said he never envisioned himself standing on the floor of the House, and intends on making the most of the opportunity to pray for federal legislators.
“I’m taking this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” he said. “I’m not taking it for granted, or going up there to make news.
“This is sincerely something elected officials need. They need prayer. It’s alright for the public to question and scrutinize elected officials, but at the end of the day we also need people to pray for us.”
Reach Keith Strange at email@example.com or 719-1929.