At the national level, the event has been around since the early 1950s. Each year, a common theme is proclaimed with a goal of bringing groups together in prayer across the nation with that theme in mind. This year’s theme was “Pray for America — UNITY,” based upon Ephesians 4:3, which the national organization in charge of the event describes as a challenge to mobilize unified public prayer for America, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Sullivan County’s event featured speakers from six local churches, representing five different denominations — as well as musical performances by the Blountville Middle School Chorus. Welcoming remarks were delivered by Sullivan County Commissioner John Gardner, and the Pledge of Allegiance was led by the Sullivan South ROTC’s Lt. Col. Lindy Williams.
Blountville Middle School Choir Director Darren Malcolm led the opening prayer (Psalm 133:1), and additional scripture readings throughout the program were led by: Joyce Crosswhite (Ephesians 4:3, the national theme’s inspiration); Assistant District Attorney William Harper (Ephesians 4:2, as prelude to prayer for unity in the state of Tennessee); Sullivan County Sheriff’s Sgt. Billy Crawford (I Corinthians 1:10, as prelude to prayer for unity in the Tri-Cities region); Sullivan County Clerk Deputy Teresa Jacobs (Ephesians 4:11-13, as prelude to prayer for unity in Sullivan County); and Branch House Site Director Karen Boyd, (Galatians 5:22, as prelude to the blessing of unity that closed the service).
A response from the crowd followed each reading, another nod to the theme and overall goal of the day: “How good it is to pray in unity!”
All were asked to stand together and offer the following “We are One — Prayer for Our Nation” in a unified voice:
“Holy God, you have made us one body and spirit. You call us to one hope through one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all.
“Teach us to use the difference in our cultures, our backgrounds, our gifts and talents, our personalities, our jobs, and our experiences for enrichment, not division. We need each other in order to live strong for you.
“Help us make every effort to respond to the unity of the Spirit that you have given us — to receive it, rejoice in it, promote it, and preserve it. Teach us to love and respect our brothers and sisters in Christ and live with them in the peace that ties us together. In Jesus name — Amen!
“How good it is to pray in unity!”
For text of the full 2018 National Prayer for America, visit http://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/national-prayer online.