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'Prayer for such a time as this'

Photo by Rebecca Long

Photo by Rebecca Long

At noon on Thursday, May 6 about a hundred people of various ages, backgrounds, religious affiliations, and positions in life came together on the lawn of the Butts County Courthouse to take a few minutes to pray together for the United States of America. It was the 59th Annual Day of Prayer, and other groups in towns and cities across our nation were simultaneously uniting their voices in prayer. The theme for the 2010 National Day of Prayer was "Prayer for such a time as this."

It could possibly have been the last opportunity to be a part of the National Day of Prayer since the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit contending that the event is unconstitutional and on April 15, District Court Judge Barbara Crabb ruled in favor of the suit on the basis the observance violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Communities like Jackson were able to continue with plans for and observance of the day this year because an appeal of the decision was filed. Organizers of the National Day of Prayer are urging supporters of the day to contact their elected officials if they feel it is important to preserve the Annual National Day of Prayer.

At the Butts County Courthouse, near the flag pole, people came together at the courthouse steps facing the old New York Store, seeking the shade of the huge magnolia tree and greeting one another brightly before the program began. Mike and Terry Burge, area coordinators for the National Day of Prayer and ministers at Heart and Soul Christian Center, passed out programs and thanked everyone for coming as the noon hour approached. Rev. Burge invited all who were working, shopping, or taking a lunch break around the square within the sound of his voice to join the program as it began.

Rev. Burge introduced a young man named Scotty Payne from the School of the Blind in Macon. Scotty added his own welcome to all who had gathered and then graced the day with his heart felt, very moving rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Rev. Joe Hunter of Truckstop Ministries then led the pledge to the American flag.

Joe Hunter began the specified prayers by praying for our military, both for the leaders and the soldiers who serve. He was followed by Rev. Burge who prayed for national leaders from President, Vice President, and Secretary of State to the members of the U.S. Supreme Court. Rev. Joe Bufford of the Jackson First Baptist Church continued with prayers for state and local governmental leaders. He urged Christians to rise out of the pew and vote; he was answered with "Amen" and "Hallelujah."

Rev. Lane Sanders of Macedonia Baptist Church led prayers for the businesses and business leaders of the nation and the community. In prayer for education, Rev. Bufford said, "Everyone here knows someone in education who is suffering from cuts and layoffs and children who will be affected by changes in the educational system.

"We need more than pointed fingers; we need outstretched hands and lifted arms," said Bufford. "I believe we serve a God who can turn things around."

Daniel Peavy, Minister to Students at Jackson First Baptist Church, prayed for the Media, and Rev Sanders prayed for the Church. The final specified prayers were offered for the Family by Rev. Jeremiah Hosford of Abundant Life Church.

The response was strong and spirited from the crowd throughout the program, which drew to a close with all joining in singing Amazing Grace.

"We're having a pep rally for Jesus," said Rev. Burge in closing. "We've bombarded heaven with our prayers today."