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From Washington to Wyoming, leaders and locals prepare for prayer day

Janis Mosteller of Cary, N.C., prays at a National Day of Prayer gathering in Raleigh, N.C., on May 4, 2017. RNS photo by Yonat Shimron

WASHINGTON (RNS) — From Washington to Wyoming, well-known clergy and grass-roots people of faith plan to gather Thursday (May 3) for the annual National Day of Prayer.

In the nation’s capital, the White House is expected to mark the day with a morning ceremony and the National Day of Prayer Task Force is hosting an evening observance at the U.S. Capitol.

In Casper, Wyo., planned events include mothers gathering at restaurants to pray for their children and the nation and a “blessing of the bikers” in a church parking lot near a Hobby Lobby store.

In between, people plan to pray in churches and at courthouses – and, in the case of Ninevah Christian Church in Lawrenceburg, Ky. – both.

“Here at our church, we have a room designated for prayer midnight tonight through midnight the next,” said Katie Butler, the church’s administrative assistant, who added members also intend to head to their county’s courthouse for noontime prayer. “Members of our church sign up for 30-minute prayer slots.”

Task force organizers expect millions to attend some 40,000 events to mark the day that has been observed annually since 1952 according to an act of Congress. In 1988, the law was amended and called for the observance to be held on the first Thursday in May.

At the Capitol on Thursday, Pastor Ronnie Floyd, task force president and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, plans to interview the pastor of First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, almost six months to the day after a gunman killed more than two dozen people in his congregation.

“I cannot think of another moment more appropriate for America to come together and pray for unity in our nation,” said Floyd when announcing plans for the annual observance. “We need a massive prayer movement that will lead us back to God and bring healing to our land.”

First Baptist Pastor Frank Pomeroy, who is to visit Washington with his wife, Sherri, and other Sutherland Springs church members, has said they are also invited to the White House this week, Texas news outlets reported.

Members of President Trump’s unofficial group of evangelical advisers are expected at the morning and evening Washington events.

But, as has occurred at past White House events, some religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, say their leaders have not been invited. Officials of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America have been invited and plan to attend.

About the author

Adelle M. Banks

Adelle M. Banks, production editor and a national reporter, joined RNS in 1995. An award-winning journalist, she previously was the religion reporter at the Orlando Sentinel and a reporter at The Providence Journal and newspapers in the upstate New York communities of Syracuse and Binghamton.

6 Comments

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  • I’m sure there’s some totally rational way to square

    a) Christian – “one who seeks to follow the teachings of the Christ” with
    b) Matthew 6:5-8

    perhaps it because it isn’t really “praying” – it’s “politics”?

  • Let us trust God & Jesus when They said that no “massive prayer movement … will lead us back to God and bring healing to our [American] land.” NOTHING WILL.

    “Religious groups, including the National Council of Churches and the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, [whose] leaders have not been … invited to the White House this week … [for] the National Day of Prayer” – should, therefore, consider themselves LUCKY for being spared this year from PLAYING GOD with prayer like these LOST SHEEP OF AMERICA.

  • Amen.

    Matthew 6:5-8 speaking of and to the Lost of Israel, is now desecrated by these Lost Sheep of America.

  • I’m not sure Jesus would have approved of something like this. After all, he reportedly taught:  

    “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:1-6)  

    A National Day of Prayer, with lots of big public events around the country, certainly doesn’t look like “going into one’s inner room” to pray. But then, I’m a cynical, insolent, godless agnostic heathen, so what could I possibly know about such things? Right?  

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