National Day of Prayer observed in events across the stateby Mike Creswell
More than 80 groups across North Carolina gathered for prayer as they observed the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 1.
The 2014 emphasis theme, "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ," was based on Romans 15:6, with the theme of "One Voice, United in Prayer."
North Carolina Baptists led or took part in many of these services, held both inside church buildings and in public places. The staff of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina gathered for a time of prayer and Bible reading at the Baptist Building in Cary.
In Jefferson, David Blackburn, director of missions for Ashe Baptist Association, led a service at the Ashe County Court House which included patriotic music by a local high school chorus and band, plus prayer led by several local pastors and political leaders. Veterans also were honored and a wreath was placed before a memorial honoring those who have served in the U.S. military.
A prayer walk was held through downtown Charlotte from the Metrolina Baptist Association office.
In Wake Forest a service including multiple prayers and music was held in front of the town hall before a giant American flag suspended from a fire truck ladder. The keynote message was given by Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, whose campus begins a few blocks from the gathering. Scott Graham with the Wake Forest Police Department led the event and gave a clear gospel witness. He also read a prayer written by North Carolinian Anne Graham Lotz for the day.
"We choose to stop pointing our finger at the sins of others, and examine our own hearts and lives. We choose to acknowledge our own sin–our neglect and defiance and ignorance and even rejection of You. This day we choose to repent," her prayer stated, citing 2 Chronicles 7. Lotz is a popular speaker, conference leader and author, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham.
A national day of prayer was declared by President Harry S. Truman in 1952, but in 1988 the day was set as an annual observance the first Thursday of May by President Ronald Reagan. Proclamations by presidents and all 50 state governors have encouraged Americans to pray on this day.
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory issued a proclamation which noted that the Continental Congress declared a national day of prayer in 1775 as the nation was being founded.
"Leaders of our state and nation throughout our history have relied on prayer during times of thanksgiving," and "during times of uncertainty in our nation and beyond, prayer helps to express our sorrow as a people." McCrory urged North Carolinians to join the nation in prayer, calling on them to gather in their homes and places of worship to pray.
At the Wake Forest service Danny Akin advocated biblical marriage. Citing Ephesians 5, he said, "There's something magnificent which gives the world a picture of God's relationship to His church and to His people that He bought with His blood, when a man and a woman rightly relate to one another in that wonderful gift of covenant marriage."
Akin said the United States has been blessed, "but I fear we have forgotten the Lord. We need to pray for our nation, but our nation will only be as strong as its families," he said.
Mike Lawson, Southeastern's director of security who serves as chaplain with Wake Forest police, led a prayer for safety of the town's police, fire and EMS first-responders.