There was no shortage of prayers for Whitney Houston Monday night, when some 1,500 people packed Harlem’s Abyssinian Baptist Church as part of a vigil for the troubled singer organized by her mother, Cissy Houston, PEOPLE reports.
Earlier this month, while Houston’s husband Bobby Brown was in jail for a probation violation, the Grammy winner, 40, checked into an undisclosed drug-rehab center for what was to have been a month of treatment.
After five days, however, Houston checked herself out, with the rep saying that this was part of the ongoing treatment.
“Lord, you know where Whitney is tonight,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told the crowd. “I ask you to touch her.”
He continued: “I don’t know where she is, I don’t know her circumstance, but I know you knew her before she was an idea in her parents’ brains. You touched her vocal cords, and you put a sweetness in her throat.”
Although Whitney was mentioned several times, the service was actually intended to be a vigil for all people who have fallen prey to drugs or alcohol.
Prior to the event, which was called “Mothers Praying for Healing,” Cissy Houston said in a message broadcast on New York radio station KISS-FM, “Let us pray for healing and deliverance.”
Cissy Houston, 60, sat in the front row of the church and at times could be seen wiping her eyes with a tissue. Toward the end of the service, she spoke briefly but did not mention her celebrity daughter by name.
“Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, loved ones — your prayers have gone out to those afflicted with misery and greed,” she said. “This day we choose strength, love, honor, compassion and reverence. We vow to reach out to God the father almighty. We stand together in hope of the possibilities of healing all our children, our loved ones who are suffering. I am touched by your presence and your support.”
Also at the end of the service, the Rev. Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Church, led the congregation in a benediction before the closing hymn, during which he shouted several times: “Please pray for Whitney and for Bobby tonight.”