The first Thursday in May was designated as the National Day of Prayer when President Ronald Regan signed Public Law 100-307 in 1988. The event has been held locally in Heritage Park by members of the Geary County Ministerial Association for years, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic changes had to be made for this years observance.
“It became pretty apparent in the last few weeks that we would not be able to gather as usual in Heritage Park,” said Pastor Tom Swihart, Legacy Community Church. “And so this year we’re asking churches to be creative in observing the National Day of Prayer.”
Religious leaders from the GCMA will lead short messages via Facebook Live on the GCMA Facebook page, www.facebook.com/gcministerassociation, throughout the day in short messages, Bible verses and prayers dedicated to first responders, medical personnel, government officials, military members, local businesses, educators, churches and families. A video will also be posted combining all the messages together later in the day as churches reach out to their individual congregations or parishioners.
“The theme this year is, ‘Pray God’s Glory Across the Earth’ from Habakkuk 2:14,” Swihart said. “(It’s) very appropriate as we’re in the middle of a global pandemic that is not just affecting our local community or nation but the entire world.”
Swihart said the national committee for the National Day of Prayer chose a different theme each year and what areas the prayers should be directed.
“We will pray for, this year in particular, prayer and thanksgiving for our first responders and medical community, they have been on the front lines and certainly in our prayers this year with what’s going on,” he said. “And we pray for our governments — local, state, national government and government officials. We pray for our military, pray for our churches, we pray for families, pray for our education system, for our businesses and for our media.”
The National Day of Prayer is multi-denominational event which encourages members of all faiths to join together in unity and strength to “pray for America,” Swihart said.
“The National Day of Prayer is not a denominational effort, it is just an appeal to God’s people across denominational lines to cry out to God, on behalf of our nation,” he said. “We don’t promote, it doesn’t stem from any particular denomination and do not promote any particular denomination. We’re just seeking God’s people to pray for America.”
The event, usually held in Heritage Park for one hour during the evening, will be be broken up into five short messages throughout the day to allow different religious leaders in the area their opportunity to be involved still.
“At nine in the morning, we’re going to begin with kind of an introduction and prayer for first responders and medical community,” Swihart said. “At 11 a.m., we’re gonna have prayer for government and military. At 1 p.m., we’ll have a spot for businesses and our media. At 3 p.m., we’ll have a spot praying for the education system. And then at 5 p.m., we will conclude with a spot praying for our churches and our families.
“Then we encourage people to join their local congregations, or their families in praying for America,” he added. “So we’re gonna have five Facebook Live spots throughout today at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. And we would ask people to join there, and then we will encourage people to join their local congregations which we are encouraging to to observe a National Day of Prayer within their own church communities.”
The decision for the social media videos was made during the shelter in place orders issued by Governor Laura Kelly in April but thanks to technology, Swihart said the community is still able to gather together to pray for the nation.
“Prayer is never sheltered in place,” he said. “And we are thankful for technology, some of the digital platforms, that are available to us.”
More information about the history and themes can be found online at www.nationaldayofprayer.org and locally on the GCMA Facebook page www.facebook.com/gcministerassociation/ with messages from local religious leaders leading up to the event May 7.