Liberty County residents on Thursday morning observed the 60th annual National Day of Prayer and participated in a moment of silence on the courthouse steps.
The observance opened with a booming rendition of “Proud to be an American” sung by Leah Hayes and Mark Turner-Munden of New Day Outreach Ministry and Life UPC, who were joined by about 75 other people scattered on the sidewalk and lawn in front of the old courthouse.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for us to gather for prayer. Presidents over the years have called the nation to prayer,” the Rev. Pastor Katrina Deason told the audience. “God will bless us in need.”
Established in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman, by a joint resolution of Congress, the observance has been recognized as a moment of united prayer across the nation, according to the official National Day of Prayer website.
“The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation,” the site states.
The prayers lifted up for the president, the military, the children and the community caught the attention of passersby on sidewalks and slowed cars zooming into and out of the downtown business district. Words of hope, dedication and love bounced off the treetops and echoed through buildings as the faithful made an effort to unify the community, if just for a few moments.
Residents were asked to join hands before bowing their heads and squeezing their eyes tightly to block out the glare of the sun and the noise of the world. Babies touched their mamas’ faces while they whispered requests, thank yous and painful remembrances to the one known as “Father,” “Jehovah,” “Allah” and “Lord.”
“Clap those hands if you love God today,” Pastor A.D. Shaw instructed the audience. “Prayer is a humanistic expression of our faith in God. Prayer is our means of deliverance of God. Let us be reminded that God honors the prayer of His people.”
Members of G-Force youth group from Bethesda Church gathered under the patch of shade offered by a large magnolia tree. Students had the day off from school, and some fellowshipped with others in the nation’s time of need, especially following the announcement of the death of Osama Bin Laden, the world’s most wanted terrorist.
“I came out today to support our church,” Aliyah Caraballo said. The 12-year-old also said she would pray for protection for the people of the United States. Her friends nodded their heads in agreement, wearing matching blue T-shirts with the name of their group emblazoned across their backs.
“With all the things happening in the world … ,” Shyann Reed trailed off. “I’m just praying that everything will come out OK.”