time to unite

      African Americans have long been known as praying people. But in his recent release, It's Prayer Time (Regal), Mark Pollard, head of the National Common Ground Coalition in Atlanta, seeks to empower the black church to engage in more targeted spiritual warfare-and show non-blacks a new prospective on prayer.

      In five years Pollard hopes prayer groups will be, as common a fixture among black churches as gospel choirs. He also hopes the larger church community will come to appreciate the kind of incognito spiritual warfare the black church has long been doing. For example, Pollard describes Civil Rights marches as a form of prayer walking-"because you are claiming authority; you are announcing Jericho."

      Though African American Christians aren't very visible in prayer movement, Pollard believes they have much to teach the larger body of Christ. He says black Christians are uniquely equipped to help the church: (1) overcome suffering through prayer; (2) equip bridge-builders to challenge personal and social manifestations of evil; and (3) restore spirituality to the culture

      He hopes Christians of all cultures will one day unite in prayer to challenge not only immorality but also social injustice. "We must deal with the evil in our hearts and the evil in our communities," he says. 'We hope this new [piety] would bring about an increased spirituality...that tears down the institutions of evil."