Thousands gather at Day of Prayer services

Friday, May 4, 2007
The Rev. Paul Short led an evening of prayer Thursday night at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in observance of the 54th annual National Day of Prayer. (Fred Lynch)

While thousands of people across the country gathered to pray for their government and education leaders Thursday, the Rev. Charles Swindoll reminded the faithful who really has power.

"The most powerful person in our country is the one who prays," Swindoll said in a taped message from the National Day of Prayer Task Force. "There has never been a more important time than now to seek the Lord's wisdom, guidance and protection for the United States of America.

At noon a group of people ignored the pouring rain to gather for prayer at the First Baptist Church of Jackson. At the same hour another group prayed at the courthouse in Scott City. Earlier a group met after breakfast at Cape First Church. Finally, an evening service was held at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau.

Those who led the prayers brought their concerns for families, country and the world before God. The strongest "amens" from the audience came when prayers were offered for young people serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We acknowledge that we realize freedom is not free," said the Rev. Luther Rhodes, pastor of First General Baptist Church in Jackson. "But we thank you for the freedom and for those who willingly went into the military and who willingly gave the ultimate sacrifice."

The National Day Of Prayer started at 6 A.M. at the Cape First Church with a breakfast, donated by several area churches, followed by a prayer service. This is the first of three events planned for the day in the Cape Girardeau area. The second prayer event begins at noon at the Jackson Baptist Church and the third event begins at 7 P.M. at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau. (Diane L. Wilson)

On the minds of Rhodes and others in the church at that moment were Jeremy Shank, who was killed in Iraq, and Robert Davis, who died in Afghanistan. Both were from Jackson. Rhodes also prayed for the safety of a member of his church, Corey Trent-haus, now serving in Iraq.

He implored that God "hasten the day when the war is over and our sons and daughters come home to be with their families."

Also remembered were those who were killed at Virginia Tech and young people in schools and colleges.

"There is such a battle over not only moral issues and education issues but lifestyle issues," said the Rev. Carter Frey, pastor of First Baptist Church. "It seems like the influence of you as God has been left out."

In prayer Frey remembered teachers, counselors, administrators in both public and private schools, and those in home-school settings. He asked that children learn and remember what's right and what's wrong in and out of the classroom.

Betty Crenshaw bowed her head during a National Day of Prayer service Thursday at First Baptist Church of Jackson. (Kit Doyle)

The Rev. Ann Mowery, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church in Gordonville, prayed for families, especially for children who "are facing things their parents did not. This is a very different time, and we need your wisdom and your protection."

Mowery asked that parents and children be reminded to pray together. "When families unite in prayer about decisions, about conflicts, about joys, they unite spiritually as well as emotionally and physically, and that is your plan."

Mowery acknowledged that the media has brought many advances into modern homes for learning and culture, but those advances also provide opportunities for corruption.

"We ask the media to minimize the negative and glorify that which does build up," she said.

The Rev. John Rice of New McKendree Methodist Church in Jackson prayed for government leadership and fair and just laws. He mentioned in particular "governments around the world, other countries that would be fair and just, that we live in peace with each other and help each other prosper."

Among the state and local leaders Rice interceded for was state Sen. Jason Crowell of Cape Girardeau, who spoke to the group in a prerecorded message from Jefferson City. Crowell said his days begin when the senate chaplain leads senators in prayer before work begins.

"We seem to have the weight of the world on our shoulders," Crowell said. "We need the Lord's guidance to get through the day."

The Rev. Sam Roethemeyer, pastor of Emanuel United Church of Christ, reminded the assembly that the world needs prayer not just on National Day of Prayer, but every day. "It's important our prayers and our lives unite our faith and our nation," he said.

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