Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Sunday, 17 August 2008 12:42 UK

Petrol pump pilgrims keep faith

By Greg Wood and Sandra Shmueli
BBC News, New York

Rocky Twyman (left) leading a prayer vigil at a Shell station
Rocky Twyman says God, not market forces, brought prices down

A prayer group in Washington DC is claiming the credit for the recent sharp drop in the US price of petrol.

Rocky Twyman, 59, a veteran community campaigner, started Pray At The Pump meetings at petrol stations in April.

Since then, the average price of US gasoline has fallen from more than $4 a gallon (3.8 litres) to $3.80.

"We don't have anybody else to turn to but God," Mr Twyman told the BBC. "We have to turn these problems over to God and not to man."

His first pilgrimage to the pump was prompted by fellow volunteers at the First Seventh Day Adventist Church in Petworth, a working-class neighbourhood of the US capital, who were struggling with higher gasoline prices.

He led them down the block to the local Shell gas station to pray. And over the months since then, he has held similar prayer meetings at pumps all over the US.

Prayer warriors

"We were down in Huntsville, Alabama. We finished praying," Mr Twyman said. "Immediately the owners came out and changed the gas prices. They brought it down. We had marvellous success down in St Louis, Missouri."

This week the group returned to the site of their first prayer meeting to celebrate. Singing "We shall overcome," they changed the words of the well-known hymn to "We'll have lower gas prices".

Mr Twyman is sceptical that market forces might be responsible for the lower prices. But he and his prayer warriors have changed their motoring habits.

"We believe not just in prayer - because we believe that faith without works is dead. So we've encouraged people to car-pool more and organise their days more, because it's a combination of faith with these other factors."

Pray At The Pump plans to build on its success and drive gasoline prices even lower. In the words of Rocky Twyman: "We just thank God for blessing us with small victories and we expect greater things to come."

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