At noon Thursday, Denton County churches will join one another on the downtown Denton Square to pray for the nation.
The National Day of Prayer has its roots in the call to prayer that preceded the 1775 Continental Congress. President Harry S. Truman signed a joint resolution with Congress in 1952 that declared a National Day of Prayer. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan amended the law to set the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.
Dorothy Smith, who has coordinated the Denton event for several years, called the prayer day a patriotic reflection, a call for the leadership of the city, county, state and nation to lead mindfully and morally.
“I think the prayers will be a mixture of repentance, praise and petition,” Smith said.
Smith said the local observance will ask for divine guidance and protection for elected officials of local, state and national government; educators; emergency responders; the private sector; the military; and the media.
“Veterans always show up for the National Day of Prayer,” Smith said. “That’s always really meaningful for us to see. And I enjoy that this is a cooperative event between our churches in Denton. I always like seeing the denominational churches, the nondenominational churches and the black and Spanish-speaking churches at the courthouse.”
Motorists, merchants and pedestrians who pass through the Square will see fire trucks creating the Arch of Honor, a symbolic bridge made when two ladder trucks hoist their ladders to create an arch. Passers-by also will see a color guard and will hear music and prayer as the participating pastors and laity lead the event from the courthouse steps. Any passers-by are welcome to join the observance. Clergy will lead prayers, and participants will have time to pray silently or in groups.
The Rev. Jim Mann, pastor of New Life Church, is the Denton pastor coordinating the event with volunteers. He said the day is a reminder for Christians and leaders alike. Mann said those participating will do so to effect change in their neighborhoods and country.
“First and foremost, we believe prayer works, and that we need to pray for those in authority over us,” Mann said. “This is about Christian unity, too. Though we all have our particular doctrines, the Bible talks about agreement in prayer. We don’t agree on church polity. Some churches are run by elders, some are run by deacons and others are run by boards. But we can all come together in prayer for the nation.”
Smith said similar observances will be happening all over the country, breaking for a mid-day moment of worship and reflection.
“I think it’s important to know that down the road literally thousands of others are doing this,” she said. “When we plan the Denton event, we send letters to every police and fire chief in the county, and to every principal in the school district, to let them know we’re praying for them. We’re privileged to be able to pray for our country.”
LUCINDA BREEDING can be reached by calling 940-566-6877 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .