‘Day of Prayer’ to unite community

Published 6:27 pm Friday, April 29, 2016

The community is asking for blessings and guidance through what has become an American tradition.

Washington will observe National Day of Prayer, a tradition started 65 years ago during the administration of President Harry S. Truman.

Washington Mayor Mac Hodges has proclaimed May 5 as this year’s observance, as the first Thursday of May is allotted for the national observance.

Locally, the day has been observed the last decade or more, according to Frank Belote, who coordinates the observance in Washington.

Belote said National Day of Prayer begins in the Eastern Time zone at 11 a.m. and is held at 11 a.m. in all subsequent time zones.

“All day long, somewhere in America, the nation will be praying in different communities,” Belote said.

This year, the theme is “Wake Up, America,” with the idea that prayers will enable a spiritual awakening, Belote said.

“The idea is we’ll be, as individuals and groups, asking God to bless our land and wake up our spiritual lives. We’ve been losing some of our spiritual connectedness. Certainly our nation was founded on religious freedom, but also freedom to worship as we please. You’re free from worship and free to worship. If we don’t exercise our freedoms, they may be jeopardized.”

Belote said Congress will begin reading the Bible, in its entirety, on Monday, and finish just as National Day of Prayer ends. Although they’ve done it in the past, it will be the first time they finish in accordance with the end of National Day of Prayer, he said.

The event will be held at the Washington Municipal Building in downtown Washington and will start with the sounding of the shofar, a Hebrew tradition that signals a call to prayer through blowing a hollowed ram’s horn, Belote said. Throughout the observance, various religious leaders throughout the community will offer a number of prayers, including prayer for widows and those in need, prayer for spiritual unity in area churches, prayer for unity and community, prayer for children and young adults and prayer for state and local leaders.

“The idea is we, as Christians, want what’s best for our community,” Belote said. “We want God’s blessings on all of us and a reminder for us, as Christians, to come together in prayer for a common purpose. We want God to smile on us and bless us, and we want to remind him, through our prayers, that we’re here and are his people and doing our best to seek his will and support one another.”

To pass the torch to the younger generation, an event for students has been coordinated for 7:15 a.m. Young people are invited to Festival Park to join youth community leaders in praying for students. Donuts and coffee will be served free of charge.

“That will be something new this year. We’ve always wanted to have youth participation, but it’s not really appropriate since (the observance) happens during school hours,” Belote said. “Rather than leave them out, we wanted to make sure we gave them a chance to be a part of this, as well. The idea is to get the students and young people a chance to be a part of this in their own way so, as they grow up, they’ll have a record and memory of having been a part of that.”

The Washington Municipal Building is located at 102 E. Second St. in downtown Washington.