Photo: Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr.; photo credit:Ammar Ibrahim
By Tom Campisi
Bishop Donald Hilliard, Jr. was the featured speaker when Pillar College hosted its annual National Day of Prayer observance at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark, NJ.
Hilliard’s message, based on “The Lord’s Prayer” in Luke 11, was meaningful for the National Day of Prayer, but was also a wake-up call that is applicable for every day.
“Lord, teach us to pray, that we might be people of purpose,” he said.
“We need to pray today. Not tomorrow. We need to pray today for the issues that confront us. We are called by the Lord to be people at prayer. The discipline of prayer is the most important and most unutilized discipline in the west. We just don’t like to pray.”
Bishop Hilliard serves as the senior pastor of Cathedral International—The Historic Second Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, NJ. Under his leadership for the last 35 years, the ministry has expanded to “One Church in Four Locations” with congregations in Asbury Park, Plainfield, and Iglesia Catedral in Perth Amboy. He is also the founder and CEO of the Cathedral Community Development Corporation.
Long before he was a bishop, Donald Hilliard was a person of prayer. At Pillar College, he stressed the importance of finding “a place of quiet and solitude” to pray, something he has practiced since his childhood. He recalled going into a Catholic church in East Orange on occasion and enjoying the presence of a sanctified space.
“The discipline of prayer brings about transformation and deliverance,” he said. “We need to cry out to God and say, ‘I need you.’”
“God calls us to pray. Prayer pulls away our pre-occupation with self, our pride. It’s a great adventure. Prayer destroys every yoke of bondage. It take us out of our comfort zone and gives us power to obey God and do His will. Prayer helps us love people the way Jesus loves people.”
Bishop Hilliard spoke about the need to have communion with God through prayer and how that communion brings about power in believers and impacts communities.
“Prayer connects our minds and hearts and passion to the Lord. Prayer brings about a holy conviction—holy power and a holy fire. Prayer is the force that brings the collapse of the Kingdom of darkness. Prayer demolishes every stronghold.”
Bishop Hilliard told the assembled crowd to pray against such strongholds as racism, sexism, and murder. He also zeroed in on current events such as the terrorist attacks on churches in Sri Lanka, the campus shooting at UNC Charlotte, black churches being bombed in the South, plummeting church membership, and “political leaders misleading the public.”
“The 21st century church needs to discern the will and purposes of God. Prayer helps us recognize that Jesus is the Lord of the Church.”
He emphatically called for “Christ over culture, Christ over political party, Christ over black, Christ over white…”
“Jesus is still the answer. We have to get back to praying in the name of Jesus.”
During the prayer time in Newark, local pastors, ministry leaders, and friends of Pillar College joined with the school administrators and professors to intercede by praying for national repentance, leaders at all levels of government, the persecuted Church, the unborn, pastors, churches, and ministries such as pregnancy centers, schools, and colleges.
Dr. David Schroeder, the president of Pillar College, echoed Bishop Hilliard’s sentiment as he closed the National Day of Prayer ceremony by reading from Isaiah 26: “Open the gates, that the righteous nation that keeps faith may enter in…”
“We are called to pray without ceasing,” he said. “Not just on the National Day of Prayer.”