A National Day of Prayer has been part of the American fabric since the First Continental Congress called for such a day in 1775. President Abraham Lincoln renewed the call to national prayer again in 1863 during the Civil War.
Then in 1952, Congress established the National Day of Prayer as an annual event by a joint resolution signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Lastly, President Ronald Reagan amended the law to designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.
Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said, “It has often been said that our nation was founded on God and His principles, but I think they forget sometimes that our country was founded on the love and salvation of Jesus Christ.
“After Gen. George Washington took his oath of office, he very boldly said he accepted the responsibility with the help of God and the blessings of Jesus Christ.
“When our Constitution was written in Constitution Hall, those people evoked the name of Jesus Christ and yet some today say we are not a Christian nation. We may not be, but we are supposed to be.”
Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis offered a prayer of thanks for the opportunity to live in the greatest nation in the world, but particularly for living in the greatest community in the nation.
“We have so much to be thankful for, but at this time we want to pray for our leaders across the nation, across this state and across this community. We ask you to be with our leaders and bless them. Instill in them a healthy fear of God we all should have but seems to be lacking from time to time. Instill in our leaders the desire to simply do what is right — not necessarily what’s politically correct; not necessarily what is popular at the moment — but to strive to do what is right,” Davis said.
10th Judicial District Circuit Court Judge Mike Sharp prayed for the judicial system.
“Almighty God, we give you our country. I give you my courtroom. I give you the courtrooms of this country Lord because they are yours. You are the only righteous judge. Let me and every judge in this world base our decisions on your Holy Word; on your truth, not ours. Let us not look to public opinion. Let us not look to public appearance, but let us look to your truth,” he said.
Church leaders who offered prayers included Steve Morgan, First Baptist Church; Mitch Maloney, North Cleveland Church of God; Philip Caines, Trinity Presbyterian; Jamie Work, Candies Creek Baptist Church; Phil Taylor, Bradley Baptist Association; Larry Cockerham, Living Word Church; Brenda Hughes, Bradley Initiative for Church and Community; Drawn Out, a quartet of Bobby Alexandre, John and Dan York, and James Nitz provided worship music.
Chris Green, Walker Valley High School, prayed that parents and educators would recognize the Bible is the source of all knowledge and wisdom. That parents and educators, whether public, private or homeschoolers would be committed to train up children in the way they should go; and recognize that faith and virtue are at the root of all education.
Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Wayne Roberson asked for protection, courage and honor for all military and civilian police forces, and for first responders locally and nationally. He asked for a hedge of protection on the nation's cities and on people in this country or abroad. He asked for comfort to hurting families and communities where recent tragedies have happened.
H. Michael Weiner, Shomair Yisrael Synagogue, Knoxville, prayed that the nation would understand the importance of standing with Israel. That God's glory would return to both nations.
Jim Gibson, First Baptist Church, offered the closing prayer. He said, “We are simply one beggar telling another beggar how we can receive food that will fill for eternity and water that will continually quench our thirst.
“Thank you for the mixture of races, denominations and churches that have gathered here. I thank you that we are a city with Spirit,” he said.