ST. MARYS — When Julie Werling turned on her radio about three weeks ago, the last thing she expected was to decide, by the end of the program, to spearhead an Ohio Prayer Day.
“I was listening to Sean Hannity,” she said. “He started talking about how Texas had a state day of prayer for the drought they were experiencing, and then it had rained. I got really motivated to do something like that here in Ohio.”
Werling, who watches her three grandchildren in her home regularly, began emailing her friends and family, promoting the Ohio Prayer Day on Oct. 1.
“I thought O for October and Ohio, and the number one because God is number one,” she explained.
She also emailed and called Gov. John Kasich, but did not get much response. “I was hoping he would jump on board with this, but he really didn’t at first,” she explained.
Werling felt discouraged by the initial lack of interest. “I felt like I can’t do this by myself,” she said. “I was praying about it before I went to bed, and I woke up at 2 a.m. with ‘own up and pray’ in my head. The letters in ‘own up’ stand for Ohio world nation united ‘n’ prayer. I knew I could never have thought that up on my own, so I knew then I was meant to do this.”
This past week, Ohio Sen. Keith Faber did get involved and talked to the governor’s office. Governor Kasich drew up a resolution on Thursday for Ohio Prayer Day, with plans to have it passed as a bill in the state senate in the coming year.
“The one assistant I talked to reminded me that Ohio’s motto is, ‘With God anything is possible,’” she said. “He told me it would be no problem that this would be passed as a bill by next year. I about fell off my chair when I heard that.”
Werling has also promoted the event on Facebook, through family and friends, and by contacting multiple churches, and has gotten positive responses.
“I’ve been having so much success with local churches,” she said. “They are all giving us their emails, so I can hook up groups to pray together. It’s really snowballing.”
With National Day of Prayer in May, some may wonder why a state day of prayer is needed. Werling explained, “Matthew 18:20 says that where two or more are gathered together in God’s name, He is in their midst. One day of prayer really isn’t enough. I think sometimes, we get lost in the bigger, national picture. When we pray in more local groups, well, you know your neighbors or your church or your school community – I want us to be united as a state. Then we can be an example to other states.”
Werling herself is a big advocate of prayer and has seen the power of prayer in her own life. “I can’t live without prayer,” she said. “I have seen amazing answers when people pray together.”
She also feels that a state day of prayer is even more important with the current events that have been happening around the globe.
“It is so urgent right now,” she said. “We really, as a nation, need prayer. There is the economy, and people need comfort with losing homes. We need to pray for our troops – four of them died in Afghanistan over the weekend. There are just so many needs. It brings me to tears to see how our world is suffering, and I just believe prayer works.”
She is asking that on Oct. 1, people gather in groups to pray, specifically at noon. “I want people to pray all day,” she said, “but doing it at a specific time is important because we will be all praying together even if we are in different places.”
Werling herself will be at Cleveland Clinic that day with her husband who is suffering from heart problems. However, she plans to pray at noon with a group, too. “The chaplain told me he will get a group together,” she said. “I’m so excited.”
With her enthusiasm, Werling is trying to persuade other people in other states to start a day of prayer. She has had at least one success. Her niece in Maryland contacted her senator this week to get a prayer day for her state on Dec. 1.
“I’m encouraging everyone I know to have a state day of prayer,” she said. “Imagine how many days of dedicated prayer we’d have if every state had its own day of prayer.”
Although Werling does not consider herself to be an activist or even particularly political, she has been deeply encouraged that one person can make a difference.
“I’m serious about this. I really want this,” she said. “I can make a difference, and if I can do it, other people can make a difference, too.”