National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held the first Thursday of May. People of all faiths are invited to pray for the nation. The prayer day was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry Truman.
The one-hour service is organized for the purpose of communicating with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. It represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on the understanding this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.
Thursday was the 61st annual observance. It was the 18th consecutive year First Baptist Church has hosted the prayer event and the second year to be held in the new church building.
Fourteen religious and civic leaders led prayers for forgiveness and intercessory prayers for government officials. There were confessions of sinfulness as a nation and joyful cries in praise and adoration to God.
Messianic Rabbi Michael Weiner of Shomair Yisrael Synagogue in Knoxville spoke of the nation’s failure to recognize Jehovah God as the sovereign of the United States of America and that he is the one and only true God.
“How good and pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity. We are here today to pull down strongholds and to pull down dividing walls and bring in the presence of the spirit of God,” he said. “We are all the family of God and as your family, we recognize we have a citizenship in New Jerusalem.”
He said everyone will claim that citizenship in the future but today, everyone gathered is a citizen of the United States of America. We ask that you forgive us for the sin of complacency, the sin of silence and toleration of “what is not you.”
Candies Creek Baptist Church Pastor Jamie Work led prayer regarding pride, self-sufficiency and prayerlessness.
“Those three things are so dangerous to our souls,” he said. “We as Americans are guilty of a very long list and we could spend a long time naming them.”
Cleveland Director of Schools Dr. Martin Ringstaff spoke on behalf of 16,000 students and about 1,300 employees of the city and county school systems, and all students and educators in private and home schools.
“The greatest teacher of all was Jesus Christ and we’ve all learned a great things from him. We emulate what he does every day in the buildings and they might pass their secular laws to try to get Him out, but as long as you see a smiling kindergartner, you know that Jesus is around somewhere. They may take him out of our buildings by law but they will never take him out of our hearts.”
First Baptist Church Co-Pastor Jim Gibson concluded the service with a request to return to the Biblical principles upon which the nation was founded.
“Blessed is the nation who’s God is the Lord,” he said. “We’ve heard people say we are no longer one nation under God. We’ve heard people say we are no longer a Christian nation and I don’t really know if either one of those is true or not, but if they could even be speculated upon, it should bring us to our knees as believers in the Lord.”
Other speakers included Gary Sears, pastor, Mount Olive Ministries; Jay McCluskey, pastor, North Cleveland Baptist Church; Tom Seay, pastor, First Methodist Church; Michael Obi, pastor, Mount Zion Prayer Center; Dwight Herod, pastor, Bowman Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church; Brian Sutton, pastor, Peerless Road Church; Tracie Shellhouse, New Hope Pregnancy Care Center; Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis; Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland; retired Air Force Lt. Col. Wayne Roberson; and Tyler Brinson, who led praise and worship.