BLOUNTVILLE — Sullivan County’s government, and those running it at the county courthouse, need prayers desperately, Sullivan County Mayor Steve Godsey said Thursday as a religious service in the courthouse drew to a close.
“Remember us at your courthouse and your county government,” Godsey said, seeming on the verge of choking up. “We are in desperate need of prayer, every day. Every day.”
Godsey made the comments as he ended Sullivan County’s service to mark the National Day of Prayer. This year’s national theme for the event was “One Nation Under God.” This marked the fourth year Sullivan County has held a service in the courthouse to participate in the national event.
Preachers this year for the county’s service included the Rev. Tom Reed of Elizabeth Chapel United Methodist Church in Bluff City and Dr. Greg Burton, pastor of Colonial Heights Baptist Church in Kingsport. Pastor Sam Haynes of New Grace Baptist Church of Bristol provided a closing prayer for the nation. Charity Baptist Church of Blountville provided music.
After a National Day of Prayer video was shown, Godsey led attendees in the Pledge of Allegiance and spoke briefly, offering a quote from American founding father Benjamin Franklin:
“I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that God governs in the affairs of men,” Godsey quoted as words attributed to Franklin during the Constitutional Convention in 1787 — and said to have been followed by Franklin’s proposal that each subsequent day of the convention begin with prayer.
“Even folks who are not outwardly religious still believe prayer is the answer to our problems,” Godsey said. “We should continually be in prayer. The Bible teaches us we should continually be in prayer.”
The program called on Reed to present a tribute to the “American Prayer Warrior.”
Reed said he’d had to give that one careful consideration — early on thinking of his own parents and grandparents, and quickly noting that men and women pray somewhat differently.
Men, Reed said, are often traditionally called upon to lead the family in prayers of thanksgiving — the blessing, as it were. He went on to describe women he has known who pray daily or nightly for a wide range of people from their families, churches and communities. Reed recalled one lady who kept not only a list of who to pray for, and for what reason, but also a checklist of answered prayers.
“People pray in a lot of different ways,” Reed said, noting the term “prayer warrior” had also made him think of the inspirational actions of a man from his childhood.
The man was a custodian in a department store, Reed said, and he could be seen there most any day, broom in hand. But come Friday, the man was always off — because he needed the time to walk the 10 miles to his Seventh-day Adventist church in a neighboring community.
Reed said the man obviously led a faith-driven, simple life, yet always seemed to be carrying items he’d sought out to pass along to others whose needs he saw as more pressing than his own.
“There’s no doubt he made an impression on me,” Reed said.
One of the songs performed was “In God We Still Trust.” The lyrics, in part:
“You place your hand on His Bible, when you swear to tell the truth. His name is on our greatest monuments, and all our money too. And when we pledge allegiance, there’s no doubt where we stand. There is no separation, we’re one nation under Him.
“In God we still trust, here in America, he’s the one we turn to every time the goin’ gets rough. He is the source of all our strength, the one who watches over us. Here in America, in God we still trust.
“Now there are those among us, who want to push Him out. And erase His name from everything, this country’s all about. From the schoolhouse to the courthouse, they’re silencing His word. Now it’s time for all believers, to make our voices heard.”
Burton’s message mentioned highlights of the role prayer has played in the nation’s development and history, then focused on the need to ask God to teach us to pray — with the emphasis on “to.” Exactly how to pray — emphasis on “how” — is something that is learned from the heart, Burton said.
“Prayer in itself changes nothing,” Burton said. “God changes things. Prayer is a partnership of the heart of man ... to the heart of God. Prayer is best when it is consistent.”