This time last year, during the World Link of Churches and Ministries’ 10th annual Divine Intervention prayer service on the State Capitol steps, members prayed the oil gushing from the Deepwater Horizon well in the Gulf of Mexico would stop. Five days later, it did.

“God definitely answers prayer,” Apostle Lloyd Benson Sr., founder and overseer of the 500-church and ministry organization, declared Saturday to about 100 cheering people gathered on the Capitol steps for the 11th annual prayer meeting.

“We declared, in Jesus’ name, for the oil to stop and five days later,” Benson said, “our prayers were answered.”

On July 10, 2010, Benson prayed on the Capitol steps for a miraculous halt to the oil leak. On July 15, 2010, oil stopped spewing from BP’s ruptured well in the Gulf for the first time in 87 days.

Although the runaway well was contained in mid-July 2010, mud and cement had to be pumped down through the top of the well, allowing the cap to be removed.

The well was finally declared dead Sept. 19, 2010, after a relief well was drilled and the wild well was successfully and permanently sealed from the bottom.

This year’s prayer meeting focused on the nation’s and state’s economy and crime ills, family issues of divorce, teen pregnancy and abortion, drug use and poverty.

The event culminated a weeklong annual conference held in Baton Rouge and Gonzales, where more than 2,000 delegates from several dozen states and foreign countries attended, Benson said.

To finish the conference, the group first marched from the Governor’s Mansion up Capitol Access Road around the Capitol lakes through Arsenal Park to the Capitol.

Accompanied by a half-dozen police cars, they carried signs and posters and sang spirituals during the 20- minute walk.

“No matter what part of the country you’re from, we want the country to change back to the way it was founded — toward God,” said Minister Damon Williams, a delegate from Detroit, who brought up the back of the group with several young men and women.

Upon arriving at the Capitol, the group enjoyed several rousing gospel selections then clergy and elected officials prayed for God’s mercy on Louisiana, the nation and the world in general. People held up their hand-made signs and banners declaring Bible verses and pleas to “stop the violence” and “stop the killing.”

State Rep. Regina Ashford Barrow, D-Baton Rouge, told the gathering that she and all other state legislators “need your prayers. We can change things (politically) but we’ve got to put our faith into action because faith without action is dead.”

Bishop Ernest Maddox, of Point of Light Christian Center in Southfield, Mich., compared last year’s oil spill to nationwide crime and poverty and prayed, “for healing of Louisiana, Baton Rouge and New Orleans. You, oh God, stopped the oil spill — you can stop poverty and crime.”

State Sen. Sharon Weston Broome, D-Baton Rouge, declared, “God has called us to prayer more than ever before. We plead the blood of the Lord Jesus over our families and we stand in the gap for our state and our families.”

Lisa Bacala, a school administrator, prayed for the area’s school students and Tracy Marquette, a local organizer for the National Day of Prayer, prayed that “Jesus would once again be in charge of our state and nation.”

The Rev. Hugo Candia, pastor of Christ For All the Nations Spanish language church on Florida Boulevard, prayed, in both Spanish and English, “for one nation under God. God bless Gov. Bobby Jindal, the state of Louisiana, the United States of America and all the nations of the world in the name of Jesus.”

Benson closed the service by asking everyone to hold hands and spread across the entire upper portion of the Capitol steps, to “link together” in prayer.

“I ask the Holy Spirit to move now with the economy, unemployment, our local, state and national leaders and our pastors,” Benson prayed. “We decree unity in this state because whatever is decreed in Jesus’ name will come to pass.”

Lola Huelster, who is not involved with the World Link organization, came from Slidell to the prayer service because, she said, “I think we should pray for our leaders and to stand with the people who are praying for our state.”

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World Link of Churches and Ministries Inc.: www.wlcm.org