As the nation marked its 62nd annual National Day of Prayer yesterday, many Sampson County locals joined in the observance, gathering at the courthouse to bring prayers of both thanksgiving and concern before God.
Apostle Marcus Becton of Way of the Cross Church in Turkey presided, welcoming everyone and beginning the event by reading 2 Chronicles 7:14.
Becton then introduced some very special guests — 45 elementary students from Mintz Christian Academy who lifted spirits as they raised their young voices in song, first by singing the National Anthem and then by singing a praise and worship song called “Our Prayer.”
“It’s a treat for us to be here. We’re very honored,” said Joy McDowell, principal of Mintz Christian Academy, of the school’s first time taking part in the local observance. “This day reminds us of our dependence on God…Every institution he has ordained needs to be lifted up in prayer.”
“I would have walked several miles just to hear these kids sing. I told them they were an answer to prayers,” noted longtime event coordinator Margaret Spivey who shared that she had initially tried to book a group to come and sing but when that plan fell apart, the students of Mintz Christian Academy stepped in, happy to do their part in the sharing the importance of prayer.
Following the children’s singing, mayor Lew Starling took to the mic, providing a brief history of prayer in America and proclaiming the day one of prayer for Clinton.
Pastors from area churches also played a vital role in the event, dispersing themselves out among the attendees to help form and lead prayer groups.
When it started, “we had various ministers come and they would pray for all the different areas, but I decided that there was people coming that could pray, that wanted to pray,” explained Spivey, “so we changed it a few years ago. We let the people pray.”
Once the groups, about 15, had been organized, people began earnestly praying for four minutes for specific areas of concern.
They prayed for those working in the national, state and local government including the police and fire and rescue workers.
They prayed for the military, for God to divinely protect and guide them as they serve and protect American citizens. Becton also encouraged prayers for military families, military chaplains and the nation’s security.
Prayers for the military are especially close to attendee Mary Dudley’s heart. “My husband served two tours in Vietnam and we’ve traveled all over. We know what it is like to be near the fighting ground. People just don’t realize how blessed they are to simply be here on earth…God blesses us in ways we don’t even imagine.”
The prayer groups also lifted up the media, praying for fair and accurate reporting. Included in that prayer was also the concern for Hollywood and its far reaching influence.
The economy, businesses and education were also among the topics prayed for. Becton asked that people pray for their employees, their employers, and the unemployed as well as for God’s protection over the many students and teachers in our schools.
Prayers were offered up on behalf of churches, pastors and fellow Christians, some who are being persecuted in America and abroad.
Families, those in nursing homes and hospitals, patients’ caretakers, and those in jail or prison were also on the event’s prayer list.
After prayers were concluded and eyes were dried, Becton introduced Spivey, praising her for all her hard work over the years to organize the local observance and giving her the opportunity to share that this would be her last year as the lead coordinator.
“This is my 20th year doing this. It started back in 1993 when the WCLN Christian radio station was upstairs across the street before they moved to Fayetteville. I helped with it then it was eventually kind of left with me and I’ve been doing it for 20 years,” shared Spivey.
“I’ve been so blessed over the years by the people who come out, and the courts office has been so cooperative as has the county who we have to get written permission from every year to do this,” continued Spivey. “It just means a lot to me to see people coming out to honor God with prayer. It’s a blessing.”
The day devoted to prayer also means a lot to many locals. In attendance was Stuart Blount, superintendent of Clinton City Schools, who noted that “the country was founded on religious beliefs” and shared that “it’s important to remember that and take pride in that.”
“Regardless of religious affiliation, prayer is helpful,” Blount added.
“I think it’s important because our nation needs God back in it again,” said attendee Linda Honeycutt. “And it’s also important for our own community. Our local government, our city officials, we all need prayer.”
To conclude the hour long observance, Mintz Christian Academy students gathered on the courthouse steps once again to sing lead the crowd in singing “God Bless America,” a prayer of sorts offered up in song.
If anyone is interested in coordinating the local observance of the National Day of Prayer, please contact Margaret Spivey at 910-592-3396.
Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at email@example.com.