Faithful gather at courthouse for National Day of Prayer
“If ever there was a time when our nation needed to pray, it is now,” The Rev. Wayne Young, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Ironton, told a group of 40 or so people who gathered Thursday afternoon on the Lawrence County Courthouse lawn.
The annual local observance of the National Day of Prayer brought together people from several Christian denominations to ask for God’s hand in solving some of the nation’s most pressing issues and guidance for those who lead.
“The community has to come together as one,” The Rev. David Ritchie, pastor of St. Paul Lutheran Church, said before the prayer service began. “We are all one people, one nation under God and especially the way our economy is and the way things are going, the community has to pull together and help each other. And prayer is the strongest thing we have.”
In his prayer, Young said that when people cry out to God in sincerity and humility, God will heal the troubles that plague us.
The Rev. Ruth Carter-Crist, pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church in Coal Grove, asked God for help for America’s families though she acknowledged Americans have often contributed to the breakdown of the family by making unwise choices.
“We have allowed things into our homes that do not honor you,” Crist prayed. She noted in her prayer that while family relationships are meant to be a gift from God, “We treat it so casually.”
She prayed for God’s help in strengthening the sanctity of marriage with God at the center of it.
The Rev. Jim Williams, pastor of Central Christian Church, prayed for God’s protection of schools and the children, teachers and others who populate them each day.
“We live in a day of violence and hate,” Williams said in his prayer. He prayed that God would thwart any evil plan the Devil might have to harm kids and schools.
He also prayed that young people would have a hunger for God and turn to him.
“We need you oh so desperately for our next generation of believers,” Williams prayed.
Ritchie prayed for the church, noting that while there are many denominations, “All are one body of Christ.”
Ritchie prayed that all Christians will be filled with the Holy Spirit, unite as one and come to love each other and love our enemies, too.
“Jesus said we are to love one another as he has loved us,” Ritchie said in his prayer.
The Rev. Jan Williams, pastor of First Presbyterian, prayed for God’s guidance in the lives and work of elected officials.
“May our legislature and courts honor you as they face the many challenges that face the state and nation,” she prayed. “We pray that wise decisions will be made.”
If Williams needed inspiration for her prayer she didn’t have far to look. Several county officeholders attended the prayer service.
The Rev. Robert Hale, pastor of First Church of the Nazarene in Ironton, prayed for God’s protection for America’s service men and women and for the families of those military personnel who must endure the hardships and fears of having a loved one so far from home.
“Many today are serving and their wives and their families are here at home and they are worried and concerned,” Hale prayed.
The Rev. Jeff Cremeans, pastor of the City Mission Church, prayed for the media, an industry he acknowledged that has often had too much influence on America and has most of the time been a bad influence.
“Forgive us for watching and buying things from Hollywood we should not have,” Cremeans prayed. He prayed for industry leaders, for celebrities and for truth in news reporting.
The Rev. Jason Sharp, youth pastor at First Methodist Church in Ironton, prayed for something a little more tangible: good weather. The daytime observance was to be followed at 5 p.m. with a youth rally on the courthouse lawn. Weather predictions were for thunderstorms and lots of rain.
“Right now it doesn’t look good,” Sharp admitted in his prayer. “But we can pray about it.”
After the prayers were offered, The Rev. James Cremeans, retired pastor of the City Mission Church, encouraged people to keep the lines of communication with God open and active.
“Don’t quit praying when you leave here,” James Cremeans said. “Continue to pray.”