“We thought prayer shouldn’t be used for access to power or to move forward people’s agendas,” said Brian Merritt, an organizer of the alternative breakfast who is pastor of the city’s Palisades Community Church. “Prayer connects us to something greater than ourselves, but also moves us in action for those around us. It challenges us to confront others’ needs.”
So while dignitaries and the nation’s leaders munch on an elaborate meal—a ticket to the formal prayer breakfast has been $650 in past years—the free People’s breakfast will entertain a little over 200 people for coffee, danishes, meditation and prayer.
“We are not expecting any representatives or senators or the president, but they are all welcome to come,” Merritt said of the guest list, which includes rabbis and imams.
“We aren’t here to gain political points. We are here to make the point that God is not found exclusively among the powerful, but among the most dispossessed,” said Merritt, who typically pastors to an inter-denominational congregation of a few dozen. “It’s not okay to be given a feeling of comfort when there are so many people who are suffering. Prayer is something people agonize over, people cry over. But it’s not always something that makes those who have power feel comfortable.”
Obviously, the People’s Prayer Breakfast isn’t going to overtake the National Prayer Breakfast. But it’s interesting to see this alternative movement—and I say that as someone who has not been a fan of the whole Occupy movement.