For those who haven’t noticed, the United States is not exactly enjoying the best of times — but this could all change through one ingredient: prayer.
That was the message Thursday from speakers at a National Day of Prayer observance on the grounds of the Mount Airy Municipal Building, where about 125 gathered in support of God and country.
“America is a mess…on the brink of destruction,” keynote speaker Dr. David Sparks, pastor of Flat Rock Pentecostal Holiness Church, told the crowd. “You know it and I know it — we are in a fix.”
However, Sparks offered a solution: “I’ve come to the conclusion that the only hope is an old-time, heaven-sent revival of God’s people.”
Prayer is the basis not only for addressing today’s problems, but has played such a role throughout the country’s history, said Mayor Deborah Cochran, another speaker for Thursday’s local event held simultaneously with others nationwide during a 62nd-annual observance. Its theme for 2013 was “Pray for America.”
“This is truly a day for our nation to come together,” said the Rev. Bob Josey of the Mount Airy Ministerial Association, sponsor of Thursday’s event.
Part Of History
There is ample precedent for relying on the power of prayer, according to Cochran.
“Since our nation’s inception, nearly every president has called the nation to prayer during critical times,” the mayor said while reading from a city proclamation declaring the special day in Mount Airy.
“We recognize our dependence on the Almighty,” Cochran added, tracing the first official call to prayer to 1775 when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation. “America trusts in the abiding power of prayer.”
That was emphasized in Mount Airy Thursday through remarks by the mayor and others and the group singing of patriotic songs with religious overtones such as “God Bless America,” “The Star-Spangled Banner,” “America the Beautiful” and “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” Blake McCraw provided accompaniment on the bugle, after the North Surry High School Junior ROTC had opened the program with a flag presentation.
The influence of a higher authority also was highlighted Thursday through prayer itself.
The Rev. Jim Vaught of Calvary Assembly of God, during a lengthy prayer, referred to “deceptions being forced upon society” which are contrary to biblical principles.
Vaught prayed for guidance for decision-makers at all levels, including President Obama, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, state government leaders and those on the local level, and protection for schools and public facilities.
He further asked that God continue to allow the country to be free and for its present economic, moral, wartime, natural-disaster and other wounds to be healed.
“Keep On Praying”
Sparks, Thursday’s keynote speaker, said he has seen firsthand the power of prayer in tough times throughout his life, including medical crises. “There are many times I have wrestled with God in prayer,” and then seen him make a difference, he said.
For example, having a doctor say that the improvement of a health condition was due to a “spontaneous remission” told him that God was really responsible, Sparks reasoned.
A “pattern of prayer” is a big part of religious history, he said of documented accounts of how people couldn’t be kept away from prayer meetings in olden times in places such as New York in 1859. “Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to that atmosphere?” Sparks said.
Sadly, such conditions don’t exist universally today, due to people’s lack of faith, he added. If they were more convinced that it affects God’s actions, “we would pray much more than we do,” Sparks said.
“If we pray little, it’s because we really believe prayer can’t accomplish all that much,” he continued.
“But it can turn this nation around,” Sparks said, mentioning how prayer can be contagious, especially in a revival setting. He encouraged everyone within listening distance Thursday to start their own “prayer movement” and “start it today — that’s my challenge…If we don’t get back to prayer, school’s out.”
Perseverance is a key, the speaker stressed.
“Keep on praying — maybe you don’t see anything happening, but pray anyway. We must not give up.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 719-1924 or firstname.lastname@example.org.