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Residents can turn to God on National Day of Prayer

The Hastings Ministerial Association is a group of Hastings ministers who come together for theological discussion and prayer. Now they are reaching out to the community to join them in prayer on the National Day of Prayer Thursday, May 6.

The National Day of Prayer is a day designated by the U.S. Congress when people are asked to turn to God in prayer and meditation. The law formalizing its observance was enacted in 1952.

Hastings residents will be able to participate in several ways.

Hastings ministers wanted to reach out to the community this year, according to John Mitchem, Hastings United Methodist Church's director of operations, communications and outreach.

"This is not a church-based event, but rather a community-based event," Mitchem said. "This is out in the marketplace."

The first event is asking people to pray in half-hour increments from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Park Ridge of Hastings Apartments, 901 W. 16th St. The sign-up sheets were distributed this past Sunday, May 2, at the Hastings area churches participating in the National Day of Prayer.

The participating churches are Hastings United Methodist, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic, St. Luke's Episcopal, First Presbyterian, Our Saviour's Evangelical Lutheran, River of Life, Christ's Family, St. Philip's Lutheran, Cornerstone Bible, Hope Lutheran, New Life Evangelical Free, Calvary Christian and The Harbor.

Each church's pastor has committed to leading one half hour of prayer during the day, Mitchem said.

All those interested can join in the prayer sessions at any time; if they have not signed up, they can still participate at anyway. They can create their own prayers, bring those they have used before, and pray for the country, the government, the community, schools, those in military, and families.

The second community prayer event will be held at noon, with prayer from 12:15 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. at Hastings City Hall, 101 E. Fourth St. The Rev. Randy Berg of Calvary Christian Church will lead this event. No sign-up is needed, and all are welcome.

The third event of the Day of Prayer is a morning prayer session from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. at the Red Rock Café and Expresso, 119 E. Second St. The Rev. Randy Strode of New Life Evangelical Free Church will lead the session.

By offering three events during the day and at different locations, the Hastings Ministerial Association is creating more options for people to participate, according to Mitchem.

"They have more choices and hopefully, more participation," he said.

Background on day

There had been several national days of prayer in the United States before the day was made official. The Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending "A day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer" be observed in 1775. During the quasi-war with France, President John Adams declared May 9, 1798, as a "day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer," during which citizens of all faiths were asked to pray "that our country may be protected from all the dangers which threaten it." On March 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation that designated April 30, 1863, as a day of "national humiliation, fasting and prayer."

More recently, the idea of a National Day of Prayer was introduced by the Rev. Billy Graham. Members of the House of Representatives and Senate introduced a joint resolution for an annual National Day of Prayer, "on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."

On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming a National Day of Prayer and that each succeeding president must declare that at an appropriate date of his choice. In 1982, a National Prayer Committee formed to coordinate and implement a fixed commemorated day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended so that the National Day of Prayer would be held the first Thursday of May each year.