WEEKLY PRAYER FOCUS

“Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.” Sidlow Baxter 

Weekly Prayer Focus: Jay-Z

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Shawn Corey Carter, born December 4, 1969, known professionally as JAY-Z (formerly stylized as  Jay Z and Jaÿ-Z), is an American rapper and businessman. He is one of the best-selling musicians of all time, having sold more than 100 million records, while receiving 21 Grammy Awards for his music. MTV ranked him the “Greatest MC of all time” in 2006. Rolling Stone ranked three of his albums—Reasonable Doubt (1996), The Blueprint (2001), and The Black Album (2003)—among The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2017, Forbes estimated his net worth at $810 million, making him the second-richest hip hop artist in the U.S. Jay-Z owns the New York 40/40 Club sports bar, and is the co-creator of the clothing line Rocawear. He is the former president of Def Jam Recordings, co-founder of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of the entertainment company Roc Nation. He also founded the sports agency Roc Nation Sports and is a certified NBA and MLB sports agent. As an artist, he holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200 with 13. He has also had four number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, one (“Empire State of Mind”) as lead artist. In 2009, he was ranked the tenth-most successful artist of the 2000s by Billboard as well as the fifth top solo male artist and fourth top rapper behind Eminem, Nelly, and 50 Cent. He was also ranked the 88th-greatest artist of all time by Rolling Stone.

Shawn Carter was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Marcy Houses, a housing project in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. After their father, Adnis Reeves, abandoned the family, Shawn and his three siblings were raised by their mother, Gloria Carter. Reeves would later meet and reconcile with Jay-Z before dying in 2003. Jay-Z claims in his lyrics that in 1982 at age 12, he shot his older brother in the shoulder for stealing his jewelry. Along with future rapper AZ, Carter attended Eli Whitney High School in Brooklyn until it was closed down. He then attended the nearby George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School with future rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Busta Rhymes, followed by a stint at Trenton Central High School in Trenton, New Jersey, though he did not graduate. Based on his interviews and lyrics, during this period he sold cocaine and was shot at three times.

According to his mother, Carter used to wake up his siblings at night banging out drum patterns on the kitchen table. She bought him a boom box for his birthday, sparking his interest in music. He began freestyling and writing lyrics. Known as “Jazzy” around the neighborhood, Carter later adopted the showbiz/stage name “Jay-Z” in homage to his mentor Jaz-O.

In 2002, Jay-Z and Beyoncé collaborated for the song “’03 Bonnie & Clyde”. Jay-Z also appeared on Beyoncé’s hit single “Crazy in Love” as well as “That’s How You Like It” from her debut album Dangerously in Love. On her second album, B’Day, he made appearances on the 2006 hits, “Déjà Vu” and “Upgrade U”. In the video for the latter song, she comically imitates his appearance. The couple generally avoids discussing their relationship. Beyoncé has stated that she believes that not publicly discussing their relationship has helped them. Jay Z said in a People article, “We don’t play with our relationship.” They kept a low profile while dating, and married in April 2008. It became a matter of public record on April 22, 2008. Beyoncé and Jay-Z were listed as the most powerful couple for TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2006. In January 2009, Forbes ranked them as Hollywood’s top-earning couple, with a combined total of $162 million. They made it to the top of the list the following year, with a combined total of $122 million between June 2008 and June 2009.

At the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé revealed that she was pregnant with their first child and on January 7, 2012 she gave birth to their daughter, Blue Ivy Carter. On January 9, 2012, Jay-Z released “Glory”, a song dedicated to their child, on his social website LifeandTimes.com. The song detailed the couple’s pregnancy struggles, including a miscarriage Beyoncé suffered before becoming pregnant with their daughter. Because Blue’s cries were included at the end of the song and she was officially credited on the song as “B.I.C”, at two days old she became the youngest person ever to appear on a Billboard chart when “Glory” debuted on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 74. On June 18, 2017, Beyoncé’s father Mathew Knowles confirmed that she had given birth to twins with Jay-Z.

In early June 2017, posters were displayed in New York City and Los Angeles, as well as banner ads on the Internet promoting a TIDAL-related project titled 4:44. A teaser ad was aired during the NBA Finals on June 7 featuring actors Mahershala Ali, Lupita Nyong’o and Danny Glover in a one-minute video, ending in “4:44 – 6.30.17, Exclusively on Tidal”. On June 18, the project was confirmed to be a new Jay-Z album, and a clip featuring a song titled “Adnis” was posted on Sprint’s YouTube page.

Please pray for Jay-Z and his family. Pray that The Lord uses the influence gifted to their family to bring more unity and joy to their fans. Pray that their creative home is filled with joy. Also, pray that The Lord molds the heart of Jay-Z, so all of his actions, creative works and business ventures are for the advancement of the kingdom. Join HPN as we lift Jay-Z up this week.

Weekly Prayer Focus: Amy Poehler

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Amy Meredith Poehler is an American actress, comedian, director, producer, and writer. After studying improv at Chicago’s Second City and ImprovOlympic in the early 1990s, she went to New York City in 1996 to become part of the improvisational comedy troupe Upright Citizens Brigade. The group’s act became a half-hour sketch comedy series on Comedy Central in 1998. Along with other members of the comedy group, Poehler was a founder of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre.

She is best known for starring as Leslie Knope in the NBC sitcom Parks and Recreation, for which she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Television Musical or Comedy Series in 2014 and a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Comedy Series in 2012. Poehler was a cast member on the NBC television series Saturday Night Live from 2001 to 2008 and became co-anchor of SNL’s Weekend Update in 2004 alongside friend and colleague Tina Fey. She is also known for voicing Joy from Inside Out, Sally O’Malley from the Horton Hears a Who! movie adaption, Bessie Higgenbottom in the 2008–2011 Nickelodeon series, The Mighty B! and Homily Clock from the American-English dub of The Secret World of Arrietty.

In 2011, Poehler was included on TIME’s “100 most influential people in the world”. She also delivered the Class Day address to Harvard University’s class of 2011.

Poehler and Fey hosted the Golden Globe Awards ceremony for the first time in 2013. Their inaugural appearance garnered attention due to a joke directed at Taylor Swift, who later responded with a Madeleine Albright quote: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” Poehler’s response to Swift’s comment, made as part of a Vanity Fair interview, was humorous, agreeing that she will go to hell, but for “other reasons”.

Poehler hosted the Golden Globes ceremony with Fey again in 2014 as part of a three-year contract. Gilbert Cruz, of the Vulture website, wrote: “They killed it last year with their opening monologue and they did so again this year.”

Poehler’s memoir, Yes Please, was published on October 28, 2014. She explained in a promotional interview with National Public Radio (NPR) that she was “used to writing in characters and not really writing about myself … it was easier to share the early parts of my life rather than my own current events.” Topics covered in the book include body image, parenthood, and learning about the limitations of physical appearance.

Poehler and Fey hosted the Golden Globe Awards ceremony for the third successive time in 2015, confirming prior to the event that the third time would be their last. Rolling Stone magazine wrote afterward that the pair “left no superstar unscathed during their riotous opening monologue,” in which they “casually roasted the assembled masses”. The Interview (2014), Bill Cosby and Steve Carell were among the numerous subjects covered in the routine.

Poehler served as an executive producer on the Swedish-American sitcom Welcome to Sweden, along with her brother Greg Poehler. The series aired on NBC. She is also an executive producer on Broad City which airs on Comedy Central, and appeared in the season one finale. Since August 2015, she has served as an executive producer on the Hulu original series Difficult People, which stars her former Parks and Recreation co-star Billy Eichner and comedian Julie Klausner, the latter of whom is the creator of the show. In December 2015, Poehler received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions in television. An 18-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee, she won the 2016 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Saturday Night Live.

Poehler married actor Will Arnett on August 29, 2003. Together, Poehler and Arnett have two sons: Archie (born October 2008) and Abel (born August 2010). Poehler and Arnett announced on September 6, 2012 that they were separating. Arnett filed for divorce on April 8, 2014 and was finalized on July 29, 2016.

As of 2017, Poehler is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Please pray for Amy this week as she will be in media attention due The House, her latests film,  being released. Ask for God to protect her family as we pray this week that God will work mightily in her life and reveal that his truest peace will only come from a relationship with Jesus Christ! 

Weekly Prayer Focus: Josh Duhamel

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Josh Duhamel was born in Minot, North Dakota. He is of French-Canadian, Irish, English, German and Norwegian ancestry. Duhamel was raised Catholic.

His parents divorced during his youth. Although he remains close to both, he grew up with his mother and his three younger sisters, Ashlee, Kassidy and Mckenzee. Duhamel attended Minot State University and played as the quarterback for the university’s football team. He planned to attend dental school, but dropped out one-and-a-half credits shy of his undergraduate degree. He later completed his credits, and he received his degree in 2005.

Josh has stated, “After college, I followed an ex-girlfriend to northern California, did a bunch of odd jobs.” Duhamel had won the title of Male Model of the Year in an International Modeling and Talent Association (IMTA) competition in 1997.

Duhamel began his acting career as an extra in the music videos for Donna Summer’s “I Will Go With You (Con te partirò)” and Christina Aguilera’s “Genie in A Bottle” in 1999. Later that year, he won the role of Leo du Pres on the ABC soap opera All My Children. His work on the show, especially his character’s pairing with Greenlee Smythe (portrayed by actor Rebecca Budig), garnered critical acclaim. In 2003, he earned a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for the Special Fan Award for America’s Favorite Couple in 2002, shared with Budig, and a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Leo du Pres. Duhamel left All My Children in 2002 to pursue other acting opportunities. In 2003, Duhamel landed a primetime role on the NBC show Las Vegas, playing the head of security for the Montecito Casino, Danny McCoy. His character succeeded James Caan’s as head of the casino after Caan departed the series at the end of the fourth season. The series ended in 2008.

Duhamel made his big-screen acting debut in 2004’s Win a Date with Tad Hamilton! and continued on to star in the thriller Turistas (2006). After watching an episode of Las Vegas in which Duhamel’s character had just returned from the war in Iraq, Steven Spielberg handpicked him for the role of Captain William Lennox in 2007’s summer blockbuster film Transformers (a film for which Spielberg was the executive producer). Duhamel reprised the role for the sequels, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, released in June 2009, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, released in June 2011. Duhamel was the official pace car driver for the 2009 Indianapolis 500, driving the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro Pace Car. In 2010, he played the lead role in the film When in Rome as Nick Beamon. In 2014 Duhamel starred in the touching drama You’re Not You (2014) playing the husband of Kate (Hilary Swank), who suffers from the degenerative disease ALS.

Josh met and began dating singer Stacy Ann Ferguson, better known by her stage name Fergie in September 2004, after Ferguson appeared on Duhamel’s show Las Vegas with her band The Black Eyed Peas. The couple wed on January 10, 2009, in a Roman Catholic ceremony at the Church Estate Vineyards in Malibu, California They have one son, Axl Jack Duhamel born in August 2013.

Please lift up Josh in prayer this week with the release of his latest film, that God would work in mighty ways in his life on set and in the public eye. Please pray for his family, for God to use them as an influence in Hollywood for His Glory!