Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hundreds in State to Join National Day of Prayer; Stadium-Style Events Multiplying

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Hundreds in State to Join National Day of Prayer; Stadium-Style Events Multiplying

Article excerpt

Byline: Alliniece T. Andino, Times-Union staff writer

They will pray for their leaders, their cities, their states, their nation and its defenders.

For the 52nd year, people across the nation will gather in homes, churches, public buildings and stadiums to pray as part of the National Day of Prayer today.

Hundreds are expected for an event at Jacksonville's City Hall and thousands at the Daytona International Speedway. But organizers welcome participation in any form, from silent private messages to a group reciting in unison a petition penned for the special day.

"It's our goal not only for us to come together and seek God's blessing and wisdom for our country, but to provide a springboard to a deeper and more sustained prayer life," said Mark Fried, national media and marketing coordinator for the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Since the country suffered through a terrorist attack two years ago and continues to struggle with fighting in Iraq and a battle in Afghanistan to find those connected to the attack, large-scale, stadium-style events like the one planned in Daytona Beach for more than 10,000 are becoming more of the norm, Fried said.

"Entire cities are coming together to pray for leaders and our troops," Fried said.

In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress declared an annual, national day of prayer. The law was amended in 1988 to set aside the first Thursday of May as the specific day. More than 2 million people attended more than 30,000 observances last year.

Organizers ask that supporters pray the "Prayer for the Nation" at noon, wherever they are, as a sign of unity before God.

The prayer will be recited during an event at City Hall arranged by Mission First Coast, a group of hundreds of churches.

Mark Thomas, pastor of Regency Assembly of God who helped organize the event, said the day of prayer symbolizes a combined spiritual force among different Christian denominations.

They will pray for the nation, leaders, "protectors" such as police and military officers and schools, Thomas said. …

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