LIMA — The National Day of Prayer is held annually on the first Thursday of May. It is an invitation for people of all different faiths to join together to pray for the country. Created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, it was signed into law by President Harry Truman.
This year, Allen County will mark the 62nd anniversary of the National Day of Prayer by meeting at 11:45 a.m. May 2 at Memorial Hall.
Theresa Lee, Allen County National Day of Prayer coordinator, and a 10-member committee began plans for this year’s event and a luncheon for area pastors, businessmen and community leaders in February.
The event will feature the high school choir from Temple Christian School, along with a yet-to-be-determined singer to perform a special number. Twenty-one different area pastors, businessmen and community leaders will pray and speak for a few minutes.
“There are a couple of pastors we will ask to speak for just five minutes with the emphasis on the theme ‘Pray it Forward: Leaving a Legacy for Our Children,’” explained Lee. The committee is waiting for confirmation of these pastors before announcing their names.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force which is a national organization that heads up the National Day of Prayer observances throughout the United States also sets a theme each year.
“Dr. James Dobson’s wife, Shirley, has headed up the task force for years,” Lee said. “Their theme this year is to commit to prayer. The challenge is to pray past this day.”
The main focus every year though, is to bring people together. Lee said that her and her committee’s goal for Allen County each year is for the entire community to be represented at the National Day of Prayer.
“We want it to look like the spiritual fabric of our community and county,” she explained. “We like to think when we stand there and pray that we really are representative of our community and our nation. It’s everyone coming together.”
Lee said the National Day of Prayer is a day to put aside our differences and focus on praying for the good of the community and the country as a whole.
“No matter what their political persuasion, no matter if we agree with them or not, we need to pray for our leaders for guidance, protection, direction and comfort,” she said.
The event will start at 11:45 a.m. with the Temple Christian High School choir singing while people come in and the various speakers find their seats. The President’s proclamation of prayer will also be read. From noon until 1 p.m., Lee said the various speakers will touch on the topics of conviction, compassion and courage, praying for the county leaders, the military, schools and family.
“We’ll have business and city leaders reading Scriptures and quotes from the founding fathers,” Lee said. “We find that the quotes add a richness.”
While Lee would like to see the event grow in numbers, she said that the seating space is limited. “We rent 340 chairs,” she said, “and some years it has been standing room only. We will be on WTLW and WTGN, so I am thankful more people will be able to participate that way.”
In addition to the National Day of Prayer, another nationwide event is planned for April 27. There will be a simultaneous Bible reading, with all of Ohio’s 88 counties participating. First Evangelical and Reformed Church will be hosting for Allen County. This concert reading will include 10 different selections from the Bible.
“On May 2, we’ll all be praying at the same time,” Lee said. “This is like the same thing, only it will be a concert of Bible reading.”
Besides Allen County, other surrounding counties and cities will also be observing the National Day of Prayer. Van Wert County started on April 6, conducting a prayer walk and will continue each Saturday until the end of April from 10 a.m. to noon. Ebenezer Mennonite Church in Bluffton will have a special service to observe the National Day of Prayer at 7 p.m. May 2. Wapakoneta will also hold an event at noon at Heritage Park, and those in Findlay has several activities planned, including a prayer rally at the Lighthouse at 7 p.m.
As for Lee, she became interested in the National Day of Prayer after seeing God move in her own family. “I had some difficulties in my family, and I started to pray for them,” she said. “I saw God move. After that, God put it on my heart that if I can pray for my family, I can pray for my community.”
She added, “With all the crisis we see on television, it can put fear in your heart, but God is more than big enough to handle it.”