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N.C. commerce secretary to prayer breakfast: Make more time for God in busy lives

N.C. Commerce Secretary – and Presbyterian lay pastor – Sharon Decker counseled the mostly business and church crowd at Tuesday’s annual YMCA prayer breakfast to make more room in their busy lives for quiet time with God.

“We have to learn to be still,” said Decker, a former Duke Power executive who pursued ministry opportunities after she left the company. “The way most of us live our lives is ‘just keep moving, just keep moving.’ Yet God calls us to a still, quiet space. You can no more have a great, loving relationship with the God that created you without spending time with that God than you can have a good marriage without spending time with your spouse.”

Decker said she finds time every morning at 5 to sit in an old chair and “listen to God.”

She also advised the 2,000 people gathered in a NASCAR Hall of Fame ballroom to build daily prayer into their lives, love others as the Bible commands – and never forget to also love and nurture themselves “so there’s more of you to give away for Christ’s sake every day.”

Among those in the crowd: Paula Broadwell, the Charlotte author whose affair with Gen. David Petraeus – the subject of a Broadwell biography – made national headlines and caused him to resign as the head of the CIA.

“The mission today, the prayer breakfast today, was to speak about redemption and slowing down in life and finding purpose,” Broadwell told News 14. “It really touched my heart. I’ve made some mistakes in the past but I’m trying to look forward with my family.”

Also attending Tuesday was Decker’s new boss, Gov. Pat McCrory.

“I came to personally support her, but she supported me (with) her words,” the governor told the Observer after the prayer breakfast, the Greater Charlotte YMCA’s 26th annual. “Her message for all of us is ‘sit down, stop and listen.’ And now more than ever. I think politicians need to hear that message, but all of us need to … have some reflection.”

Asked whether he’s found a church or started a spiritual regimen himself in Raleigh, McCrory said that “I have a study group every Monday morning. I don’t advertise it. But I’m very proud of it.”

During his many years as Charlotte’s mayor, the Republican governor said he appeared at a lot of the YMCA prayer breakfasts.

The YMCA again emphasized the C – for Christian – in its name, with multiple prayers from clergy invoking Jesus.

Singing hymns at the event: the Johnson C. Smith University Concert Choir.

Decker ended her sermon by reading a prayer based on Psalm 127, then asking her audience to read it silently to themselves and refer to it again later.

“Busy lives become our food, the bread we eat; sorry sustenance for people whose hearts are hungry,” she read. “We have forgotten, God, that your restorative rhythm includes work and rest.”

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