Scripture was read, patriotic and religious songs performed, and prayers offered up for families, the military, the government, and the church on the steps of the Union County Courthouse Thursday afternoon during the 61st Annual Observance of the National Day of Prayer Celebration.
A large crowd gathered on the courthouse steps to join with ministers, local government officials, educators, veterans and others in prayers a bulletin handed out before the ceremony described as “Interceding for our Nation.” After the invocation was delivered by Rev. Robert Barefoot, the crowd was led by Rev. Shawn Murphy in the singing of the National Anthem. In the course of the program, there was “Blessing” special music performed by Amy House. Near the end of the program and before the benediction was delivered by Rev. Keith Morrison, Murphy led the crowd in song once again, this time singing “God Bless America.
The main part of the event, however, was prayer that sought divine intervention, guidance and blessings for all aspects of American society. City of Union Mayor Harold Thompson led the crowd in a prayer for the government followed by Vietnam veteran Jantzen Childers who led a prayer for the military. Union County High School Principal Floyd Lyles led a prayer for education while Jean Capps led a prayer for families. A prayer for the media was led by WBCU radio personality Mike Stevens and businessman Frank Hart led a prayer businesses. A prayer for the church was then led by Rev. Josh Freeman.
In addition to the prayers offered, scriptures from the Bible were read at the beginning and near the end of the program. Rev. Robert Chapman helped open the observance by reading Psalm 33 which speaks of the character, power, and majesty of God and the importance of both individual and nation placing their faith in Him:
1 Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise him.
2 Praise the Lord with the harp;
make music to him on the ten-stringed lyre.
3 Sing to him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
4 For the word of the Lord is right and true;
he is faithful in all he does.
5 The Lord loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of his unfailing love.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
their starry host by the breath of his mouth.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea into jars[a];
he puts the deep into storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the people of the world revere him.
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
10 The Lord foils the plans of the nations;
he thwarts the purposes of the peoples.
11 But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever,
the purposes of his heart through all generations.
12 Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he chose for his inheritance.
13 From heaven the Lord looks down
and sees all mankind;
14 from his dwelling place he watches
all who live on earth —
15 he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do.
16 No king is saved by the size of his army;
no warrior escapes by his great strength.
17 A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
18 But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
19 to deliver them from death
and keep them alive in famine.
20 We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield.
21 In him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
22 May your unfailing love be with us, Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.
Just before the prayer for the church was offered, Rev. Rick Pendleton read from the first chapter of Joshua which also tells of the character of God and how He blesses those who obey Him:
Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them — to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates — all the Hittite country — to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. 5 No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”