Prayers. Prayers for the president, the country, our leaders, the military, individuals, families, the weak, the hurt, the sick, the addicted and the poor. Prayers of love, hope, strength, deliverance, wisdom, forgiveness and peace.
The and several others prayed. And they prayed hard.
As you walked into the Lacey church on Thursday evening, there was more of a patriotic feel than that of the traditional service as "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee" bounced off the wooden walls — not your ordinary hymn during a service.
Sitting in the pews were approximately 25 individuals transfixed before the beauty of the altar with sheer curtains the color of the rainbow, candles shimmering and a spotlighted cross.
In the hustle and bustle of their average day, these locals came out to worship and pray. After all, it was a national holiday.
Many across the country came out Thursday in observance of the 61st annual National Day of Prayer.
The local Methodist church organized the community prayer service that was open to everyone and anyone.
“The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage,” parish member Chip Marshall said after reading President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation appointing a National Fast Day in 1863. The proclamation states:
…We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness…
The hour-long church service was dedicated to remembering God by praying for the nation.
“The burden of leadership is something that carries a great deal of weight with it,” the Rev. Doug Rea said. “Why is prayer so important? The first thing is that it humbles us because we know that we have a dependence upon God.”
Rea drew from 1 Timothy 2:1-4 that called for prayers for everyone. “Leave no one out,” Rea said.
And they didn’t.
From when Columbus sailed the ocean blue to the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, “God has brought us through centuries of vision and faith that a people would not let go of,” Pastor Linda Applegate said.
Applegate prayed that, “The next part of history is here for our making.”
"God Bless America" and several hymns were sung and corporate prayers were said including one that allowed those attending to sporadically voice a petition.
“Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers,” the parish said collectively after each plea.
Sandy Stenstrom organized the community service because prayer is important, she said.
“There’s certainly a need for prayer,” Stenstrom said. “Prayer heals, it builds bridges and fosters love.”
Singing wholeheartedly with her hymnbook in hand, Dot Connolly later said, “I think we need to do a whole lot more of praying.”
The world is involved in too many wars and too many are getting killed, she said.
“We need peace. Our country’s going in the wrong direction and this is not what God wants,” she said.
But praying in the church and at home is where peace starts, she added.
“Anything that brings the community together in prayer and unity is where we need to be,” Applegate said.
The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May. The holiday was made official in 1952 when President Harry S. Truman signed a joint resolution of the United States Congress into law.
According to the National Day of Prayer, a privately funded organization that encourages participation, the day calls for personal repentance and people of all faiths to pray for the nation.