God granted a gentle breeze to cool those who chose to participate in the 61st Annual National Day of Prayer Thursday at noon in downtown Clinton. Nearly 100 people gathered on the courthouse steps — and others gathered on the front lawn of Harrells Christian Academy as the Harrells community and the school paused together to offer prayers to God.
The observance this year held the theme of “One Nation Under God,” based on the scripture passage “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Psalm 33:12.
Again this year, the Bible was read prior to the National Day of Prayer observance on the street in front of the Family Christian Store. The reader read from the book of Psalms.
For the first time, the Rev. Marcus Becton led the Clinton observance. The Rev. Willie Bowden had served for the past five years with distinction, event organizer Margaret Spivey thanked Bowden and God for his years of service to the program.
Following Becton’s invocation, Melody Powell of First Baptist Church, Clinton, garnered everyone’s attention as she sang the National Anthem. Then Eli Bradley, a Boy Scout from Troop 80, and his Cub Scout brother, Silas Bradley from Pack 27, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Powell then lifted everyone up in a rendition of “God of This City,” that had the crowd praising God as she sang.
The weather was hot but God inspired the crowd of those participating to lift up others to him. Spivey had the people to divide into small groups around the courthouse steps in preparation for the areas of prayer time during the National Day of Prayer observance. Local ministers and pastors introduced themselves and then joined the different group to help facilitate.
Participants, old and young, some in wheelchairs, others with canes or walkers, joined together to pray, asking for specific areas of concern starting with the leaders of government, national, state and local. Every four minutes a bell rang out for the focus to shift to another area of concern. The other areas included the military, asking for divine protection and guidance for the armed forces, military chaplains and loved ones at home and for national security.Next prayers were offered for the media, that fair and accurate reporting would take place, and special prayers for Hollywood were offered. Business and the economy was the next area of prayer. Emphasis for employers and employees asking that God will raise up his ambassadors in the workplace and for the unemployed. The groups then lifted up education asking protection for students and teachers in chools seeking morally sound instruction.
Becton took a short break to ask those praying if they felt what they were doing was accomplishing anything. The crowd erupted in applause, indicating that they felt they were indeed accomplishing something real for God through their prayers.
As the groups continued to prayer for the various other areas, Powell offered another inspirational song entitled, “May We Never Forget.” The groups then continued to offer prayers for the areas of the church, asking God to strengthen and ready churches for revival, asking specifically for pastors and for the lost in the world. The family was the next area of prayer. Participants asked God to build a strong foundation of faith in parents and in children. The prayer group session ended with special prayers for those in nursing homes, hospitals, the sick, caretakers, the abused and prisoners.
When asked, those attending all remarked in similar ways expressing that they came to make a difference, to show support for the nation, to offer up prayers for the various groups mentioned, and to lift up others and themselves during the observance. Others shared that they just wanted to be a part of Christ’s kingdom and give all glory to him and they attempt to serve him.
Becton remarked, “It is very important and vital that we, as a nation, take time from our busy schedules and talk to God. To ask him for his guidance, his support, his help and his love as we attempt to walk our lives.”
Powell then offered up a song in prayer entitled, “America the Beautiful” followed by the benediction offered by Becton.
To conclude the observance everyone joined in the singing of one final prayer in song, with the singing of “God Bless America.”
Spivey thanked everyone for attending and supporting the National Day of Prayer and also expressed her gratitude to Jean Hatch for providing music throughout the program, the pastors, scouts, Melody Powell and to Joey Warren for providing the sound system.
“We are all blessed for being here today, and hopefully our efforts today will lead us to a stronger and better country,” remarked Spivey.