Later in the day, people packed Immanuel Baptist Church to mark the day with prayer, songs and worship.
The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Since its inception, the day has continually united Americans from all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds in prayer while also encouraging personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.
“A few years ago, someone approached me about observing the National Day of Prayer here at the office,” said Sheriff Robert Bryan. “We’ve done it every year since, and it grows every year. At this crucial time in our nation, we can do nothing more important than pray. But there is no more important place than to be here praying for our county, our city, our state and our nation.”
The theme for 2016 was Wake Up America, which emphasized the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to return to God. To further highlight the theme, Isaiah 58:1 was chosen as the scripture for this year, “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.”
“It said that we cant be witnesses for Christ if the people at home don’t listen to us,” said Wilson County Mayor Randall Hutto. “We’ve got to invest in our home. So I encourage you today. I need your prayers every day. And we need to pray for each other every day, not just today.”
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans and is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens to celebrate freedom of religion.
“Now more than ever in this nation we all need to be praying for one another. One thing that you can do for someone is to pray for them. They will never forget that,” said sheriff’s Chaplain Don Willis.
State Rep. Mark Pody said, “I am so thankful that we have to opportunity to openly pray. There are so many nations around the world that can’t do this. We are blessed that we can do it, but it’s only through the prayers of the people and the Christians who stand up in leadership that we allowed to continue to do this.”
It is estimated that more than 2 million people attended more than 30,000 observances – organized by about 40,000 volunteers. At state capitols, county courthouses, on the steps of city halls, and in schools, businesses, churches and homes, people stopped their activities and gathered for prayer.
“When someone comes up to me and says, ‘we appreciate everything you are doing’ and ‘can I say prayer for you?’ At that point you really feel humble, and you appreciate it. A lot of times at that moment you needed the most, and it always happens when you need it the most,” said Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead.