LIMA — Several area pastors gathered with a sizeable crowd at Allen County Memorial Hall Thursday for the 63rd observance of National Day of Prayer. A small number of civic officials, including county commissioner Jay Begg, Lima Police Chief Kevin Martin and state representative candidate Bob Cupp, also participated.
Originally signed into law in 1952 by President Harry Truman, the National Day of Prayer is observed the first Thursday of May, emphasizing both personal and national repentance and prayer from a Judeo-Christian perspective. Organizers maintain that prayer is an essential part of American heritage, going back to the Continental Congress’ call to prayer in 1775 asking for wisdom in forming a new nation.
In Lima, both pastors and officials stood to pray for various concerns at both the local and national level, such as protection from terrorism, wisdom for those in authority and for the solidarity of marraiges and families.
“We believe that God hears and answers prayer,” Theresa Lee, Allen County coordinator for the National Day of Prayer, said. “He tells us in the scriptures to pray for those in authority over us that we may live peaceable lives.”
This event also serves to celebrate the freedoms people of faith continue to enjoy in this country.
“We have a wonderful, free country where no one is putting us to death for our faith, and that’s a freedom we need to express,” Lee said.
Other communities in the region hosted prayer events. Bluffton held an event at Ebenezer Mennonite Church, while Wapakoneta’s event was held outdoors at Heritage Park.
“Considering it was a cold, blustery day, it went very well,” organizer Bernice Rohdes said. “We had everyone represented from government to law enforcement and schools. We had people ranging from 12 up to 96 out there.”
For everyone taking part, the National Day of Prayer is a unifying force, not just for Christians, but for the nation as a whole.
“This is a day when not only our community, but also our nation can come together as one to be heard and to pray,” Rohdes said. “We need to pray for our leaders and our first responders. It brings all denominations together. Our country needs to be unified in prayer.”
Lee noted that these times of prayer are not just archaic rituals devoid of substance, but instead have the power to create significant, tangible results, both along the nation’s borders and within the walls of Congress.
“I know people who go into the Capitol Building and pray every day,” she said. “They have seen bills that don’t live up to biblical principles look like they’re going to pass and have been overturned or modified, making it more palatable for everyone. We’ve seen a lot of things in the government change according to prayer. I also think about how many terrorist activities have been prevented before anything would happen. I believe that God is overseeing us.”
While this event is set aside for one day every year, Lee and others involved hope that the prayers for this nation will continue throughout the year.
“This is not just about today, but we want to encourage people to keep praying,” she said. “We’re going to need prayer tomorrow and our government will need prayer the day after that.”