Heartland community participates in National Day of Prayer

Updated: May. 6, 2021 at 9:38 PM CDT
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UNION COUNTY, Ill. (KFVS) - One Heartland community came together for the National Day of Prayer on May 6.

Residents of Union County participated in the day of prayer organized nationally by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, in partnership with the Combined Federal Campaign and the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

The mission of the task force is to “mobilize unified public prayer for America.”

The Heartland day of prayer event was hosted by the City of Anna and coordinated by the Union County Alliance of Churches.

According to it’s website, the Alliance is “committed to encouraging unity among all the Christian church congregations.”

It includes a variety of Southern Illinois Christian churches from Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran denominations.

The sponsors of the event stated that the event was not meant for one town or one church.

Well, we see so much stuff the divides us and of course the stuff that divides us really does divide us. And it feels like the last few years we have all been at each other’s throats, even including the Christians. But what unites us is so much more important it’s so much bigger than the things that divide us. So the ability to come together and pray for our community and the people in it. I hope people see this and I hope they understand that we are trying to model what it means to be neighbors, you are not always go to see things the same way but that’s ok.

The service began at 7 p.m., it included the presentation of colors by the Anna VFW.

Church and community leaders lead prayers for everything from healthcare workers to the military.

The first National Day of Prayer was held in 1775 when the Continental Congress “designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation.”

The day did not become an annual event until 177 years later.

In 1952, under the direction of Rev. Billy Gram, Public Law 82-324 was passed.

The law states that each year the U.S. President is authorized to issue a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2021, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in prayers for spiritual guidance, mercy, and protection.

Since 1989, the National Day of Prayer Task Force has written proclamations with a yearly theme and scripture verse.

This year’s theme was “Lord, pour out you Love, Life and Liberty” with 2 Corinthians 3:17 as the scripture, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty”.

National days of prayer have not been without their controversies. In 1813, President James Madison stated that “They seem to imply and certainly nourish the erroneous idea of a national religion.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1803, “Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.

In recent years, there has been several attempts to expand the day to a multi-faith, multi-cultural event.

Some have been met with resistance. In 2003, the Jewish community, Muslims, Unitarians and Hindus attempted to participate in Muncie, Indiana. Their attempts were met with resistance.

Rev. William Keller, an evangelical Christian, did not allow others of different faiths to take the microphone and pray, they were only allowed to listen to the prayers of others. A separate community event was held for those who did not believe the same faith as Keller.

In 2010, a Wisconsin judge issued a ruling that stated Public Law 82-324 violates the U.S. Constitution by mandating a religious activity.

Former Pres. Obama and his White House Press Secretary filed an appeal shortly after the ruling.

As of May 2021, the court case is still ongoing.

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