National Day of Prayer to be held Thursday

Saturday, May 2, 2009
@Cutline - Body Copy:The National Day of Prayer Service was held at Centenary United Methodist Church on May 1, 2008, in Cape Girardeau. Centenary was one of the many churches in the area to hold a prayer service that day. (AARON EISENHAUER ~ aeisenhauer@semissourian.com)

To some, prayer is a private activity. Thursday it becomes a national act.

Area churches and organizations plan to observe the 58th annual National Day of Prayer with group activities throughout the day.

"People pray individually all the time, but the National Day of Prayer is a time when individuals come together as a whole and pray for our country," said Debbie Tracy, who helped organize one of the events. "It is a scriptural invitation to prayer and a response to the Pledge of Allegiance."

In 1952 President Harry S. Truman signed a joint resolution by Congress declaring National Day of Prayer an annual celebration. President Ronald Reagan amended the resolution in 1988 and set aside the first Thursday in May for the annual Day of Prayer.

The national theme this year is "Prayer, America's Hope."

"The National Day of Prayer is a call for people to come together and act in ways to make a difference," said the Rev. Scott Moon, senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau. "Four years ago Hurricane Katrina was the main focus of our prayer. It was but one way to strengthen the nation."

A National Day of Prayer Task Force was created by the National Prayer Committee to organize and promote observances to prayer that conformed to the Judeo-Christian system of values. People who hold other philosophical and theological principles can organize and participate in activities pertinent to their beliefs as well. Congress wanted diversity so that all who wanted to pray for the nation would be encouraged to do so in appropriate ways, according to the organization's website.

Cape Girardeau and Jackson ministerial alliances and churches joined forces this year to plan two events for the National Day of Prayer. They will hold a prayer breakfast at CrossRoads Fellowship in Jackson and an evening prayer service at St. Andrew Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau.

"The fact that Cape and Jackson are combining means that communities are coming together to give thanks and be conscious of meeting suffering with prayers," said the Rev. Sam Roethemeyer, pastor of Emmanuel United Church of Christ in Jackson.

Eva Hillis, director of Love INC (In the Name of Christ), will speak at the free prayer breakfast to be held at Crossroads Fellowship in Jackson. Song and prayer will be offered at the evening service.

"We all need to be reminded that our hope comes from God," said Tracy, chairwoman of the breakfast.

The Community Day of Prayer will be directed toward assisting families in need, but it will also include prayers for media, children, military and government, according to in a news release about the event.

"Anytime we can pray, we should pray for our country and governments and the seven values stated by the National Day of Prayer Task Force," said the Rev. Frank Husted, pastor of First United Methodist Church in Chaffee, Mo.

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