MT. JULIET – In the end God won't fight battles for us unless we get on the battlefield, and that battlefield is prayer, former Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe told those in attendance Thursday at the annual Mt. Juliet Prayer Breakfast at Cooks United Methodist Church .
The breakfast was in honor of National Day of Prayer the first Thursday of May since 1988.
Ashe was the keynote speaker at the event that drew several dozen local citizens and officials, along with 11 preachers from area churches. Cooks pastor the Rev. Lee Stevenson told those in attendance our "nation needs to return to you and be filled with your spirit."
Victory Baptist Church Pastor Chuck Groover introduced Ashe. He was born and raised in Wilson County, served in the Vietnam War and was awarded three Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star and other accommodations. He's the author of "Ashes of Bluebird," a memoir.
His life of public service began as a deputy with the Wilson County Sheriff's Office. Subsequently he served as the chief of detectives at the Lebanon Police Department, where he "solved many cold cases and high-profile cases," said Groover.
Ashe was elected Wilson County sheriff in 1982 and re-elected seven times. After his retirement in October, Ashe became the executive director of the Tennessee Sheriff's Association.
In a somber and dignified tone, Ashe said he at first had "reservations" about speaking on this special day.
"I told the person who asked, 'find somebody really worthy,'" said Ashe. "And he said 'I have; I'm on the phone with him.'"
Ashe told the crowd he was saved when he was 9 years old. He focused on the power of prayer and the presence of angels in our lives.
"I can't tell you how many times I've prayed, and my prayers were answered," he said.
"It amazes me how we don't talk about what we pray for. I guess we think people might think were are nuts for what we pray for, or we might be embarrassed. But, in reality, we are talking to the only true one, our Lord and Savior."
Prayer is our private communication to Him, and the Bible is Him talking to us, said Ashe.
He then went on to a topic he said was "personal and spiritual" to him – angels.
"I have faced death a lot of times," he said. "And I've seen every kind of business of guns you can imagine. I believe in angels, and I want you to believe in demons. "
Angels are mentioned 273 times in the Bible, 175 times in the New Testament, said Ashe.
"God created angels before man for a purpose," said Ashe. "They are here in this room."
Ashe spoke about three angels in the Bible: Gabriel, Michael and Satan.
He said Gabriel is the ultimate messenger and Michael is the guardian, "he keeps 3 year olds from falling off the stairwell.
"He's held my hands on dark nights, and he's the one I'm closest to," said Ashe.
The other angel is Satan.
"He's doing double duty every day," he said. "The Bible speaks about countless angels," he said. "I believe they are real. Satan only has legions, and they think they will win."
Ashe said the devil is busy.
"I've seen so much death it would keep you awake at night," he told the crowd. "God sent angels to protect me. The angel of death many times has shown up. But the angel Michael said, 'not yet'. I've kept His angel busy, a few had to pinch-hit some times."
He concluded his speech reflecting on America.
"We need strong prayer in our lives," he said. "Our country is in desperate need of prayer. I am concerned. God wants this nation to get back into Godly trust, not manly trust."
Ashe said the nation's enemies need to know citizens are strong.
"That's what our nation needs to do, one person at a time," said Ashe. "Never be afraid to say Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and we will not be shaken. God needs to be on the forefront."
He read Psalm 47, his favorite, and said this passage speaks to where we are.
"In your quiet moments, pray for our country, state, county and cities," he said. "And, never forget the men and women God has working every day defending us."
The close of the event was highlighted with those in attendance standing close and holding hands to sing a hymn. Prayer requests were collected and will be dispersed to area pastors.
Proceeds from the breakfast will go toward the Cooks United Methodist Church youth group for a mission trip. It was in partnership with the Mt. Juliet-West Wilson Chamber of Commerce.