NEW YORK — On a misty January morning, an unassuming building located southeast of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park rumbles with the sounds of voices, crying out to God. Based solely on the volume, one would never guess the small congregation that makes up the Pentecostal Anointing Church of God.

Inside the building, the aggressive sound is starkly contrasted by a visually calming space. White and blue linen drape the walls, and a blue carpet stretches from the entrance to a small stage at the front of the room. Just under 30 people make up the church community, most of them women and children dressed in white robes with either blue or white head coverings.

At the front of the stage, the congregational leader, who is referred to as Mommy, guides the small crowd in prayer. Mommy leads the church alongside her husband and head pastor, Babajide Balogun, who is referred to as Daddy. Together, they are “parents in the Lord” to this church community. 

Two hours and 45 minutes in, this is the second time this service the congregation has stopped to pray like this. At the beginning of the service, as people trickled in, the community engaged in an equally boisterous prayer where they were told to “pray with everything in you,” by a congregant leading the prayer.

Other than Mommy’s voice coming through the microphone, individual voices are difficult to pick out. Nonetheless, everyone is deep in prayer — eyes closed, hands lifted. A few women rock back and forth as they stand; others tremble, their shoulders shaking left to right. As time passes, the energy in the room escalates, with some beginning to yell. 

In the Nigerian Pentecostal faith, the act of “praying in the Spirit” can be as physical as it is spiritual. The Bible states in Ephesians 6:18, “Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request.” Nigerian Pentecostals believe that through prayer, they access the Living God, who listens to their requests and praises.

Towards the front of the room a woman cries out “hallelujah,” as she falls to the floor. Sister Grace, dressed in a white robe with a white head covering, shakes rhythmically, her hands and knees touching the carpet. Her face is scrunched up, and sweat drips off her temple as she laments loudly. She is the only one in the room that has fallen to her hands and knees.

“You are overcoming that mindset that is not of God,” Mommy says into the microphone. “Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus.” 

Within a few minutes the room slowly quiets down and eyes start opening, marking the end of the service. Sister Grace slowly stands back to her feet and then collapses into the chair behind her, wiping her cheeks.

Reflecting on her experience, Sister Grace said it’s hard to describe the reasoning behind her physical movements. “All I know is I came in feeling burdened from the week,” Sister Grace said. “It was the Lord that gave me energy. He’s really doing a work.”