Gwinnett Daily Post– Kevin Myers faced a daunting task as he prepared to address the nation’s leaders in Washington D.C. on Tuesday.
The 12Stone Church senior pastor had to inspire the House of Representatives to serve their constituents and lead with their conscience, but there was a catch: House rules stipulated that he was limited to 150 words. It also had to be sent to Washington a week in advance.
As the House Chaplain of the Day, he had to craft a short message where every word literally counted. However brief the message was, it had to speak volumes and represent many other words that he wanted to say.
“I was glad they limited the words and expected me to decide ahead of time,” Myers told the Daily Post on Wednesday. “I thought that was wise because it required me to prepare. It required me to spend time thinking about their world.”
U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) invited Myers earlier this year to address the House of Representatives as its Chaplain of the Day. The pastor went to Washington on Monday with 12Stone Chief Financial Officer Norwood Davis and spent 36 hours in the nation’s capitol.
Myers has now led government leaders at the county, state and national levels in prayer. He was the Chaplain of the Day for the Georgia Senate a few years ago, but this week’s experience was different for him.
For one thing, the historical importance of the setting was not lost on the pastor, who got to visit some of the back areas of the Capital Building, where few members of the public get to visit. He was also introduced on the house floor by outgoing Speaker of the House John Boehner.
When it came down to what he was there to do, however, the pastor saw it as being no different from what he does every Sunday with his congregation at 12Stone.
“I was a chaplain for a day, not a politician for a day,” Myers said. “Some people think ‘Oh what was it like to go up there and be a politician?’ Well, what we really got a chance to do is go meet some people who we pray for and go pray over people who are making major decisions for our nation.
“It wasn’t the first time I prayed for them. It was just the first time I prayed for them up on the Hill. From that standpoint, it was a great opportunity.”
During his prayer, Myers asked God to give representatives wisdom, grace and courage to lead the country without giving up their convictions. He also asked God to help them maintain their relations with their families while dealing with the pressures that come with making decisions that have national implications.
That ultimately gave him a framework to craft a prayer that started out at around 500 words, but was ultimately whittled down to the 150-word limit he had to work with.
“I spent some time thinking about, ‘If I were a politician, what would be the burdens that I carry? What would be the things I care about? What are the things that weigh on me that others may not think about?,” he said. “That’s really where I started at.”
The pastor compared the process of crafting the prayer to crafting his weekly sermons.
“When I speak on a weekend, I still only get 35 to 38 minutes to speak, but I usually have three hours of material in my brain,” he said. “At that point, you have to figure out what do you care most about (and) what do they care most about. Frankly, I ask myself, ‘What does God care most about?’ That’s part of the answer.”
Myers said he did not feel like he was specifically being singled out for honors as the Chaplain of the Day. Instead, he felt as if his congregation was receiving the honor and he was just standing in front of the House on their behalf.
“We’re all part of the church and I’m just the pastor of the church,” he said.
There are 435 representatives in the House and the chamber does not meet all 365 days of the year. Within the time they do meet, they do not have a Chaplain of the Day every day, which meant Myers had a rare opportunity to appear before the legislators.
“It’s not something that happens every day,” Davis said.
After Myers delivered the prayer, Woodall recounted to his colleagues how the church started with 69 people showing up for its first service in a movie theater and how it has grown to 17,000 families.
“Every single one of those godly families loves on our community because of the loving and faithfulness that Kevin inspires,” Woodall said. “We are all honored to serve the men and women who elect us to this office. I want you to know that I am honored to serve the godly folks at 12Stone Church.”
Woodall told the Daily Post on Wednesday that it was a “special opportunity to have one of our own lead the House in prayer.” He added that Myers represented the quality of leaders in his district, which includes parts of Gwinnett and Forsyth counties.
“Kevin does amazing work throughout our community,” the congressman said. “His commitment to service – matched only by his humble nature – is felt by so many here at home, and I’m grateful he was able to share it with us in Washington this week. I’m so proud of the leadership we have in the 7th District, of which Kevin is a wonderful example.”
Davis said the church saw it as an honor to have its pastor represent Gwinnett County on a national stage. Myers prayer was heard not only by the representatives present in the House chambers, but by countless people who watched it live on C-SPAN.
Davis said the church placed a clip from C-SPAN’s broadcast of Myers prayer on its Facebook page and it had been watched about 78,000 times by Wednesday afternoon. He added that the post it was embedded into had been seen by 300,000 people.
“We were honored to have this opportunity to represent all of the people of 12Stone and the way we serve the community,” Davis said.