The annual observance invites Americans to pray for their government, churches, military, families, educational systems, media and businesses.
“We have some tremendous problems in America, but none greater than we have forgotten God as a nation,” said the Rev. David McKinley, the pastor of Warren Baptist Church.
The church was one of several in Augusta to hold one the country’s tens of thousands events for the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer.
“Everybody thinks of prayer as a very private and personal thing,” McKinley said during the church’s business ministry lunch series, BreakAway. On Thursday, more than 150 came for a special National Day of Prayer service during the luncheon.
Prayer isn’t just private, McKinley said. The National Day of Prayer grants communities a public opportunity to join together in prayer and revival.
“We came to talk about praying – genuinely praying – for the needs and concerns of our nation,” he said. “My heart is broken for America. Our government is strained in America because our character is stained in America.”
The National Day of Prayer, held on the first Thursday of May, was established in 1952. In Washington, D.C., on Thursday, a national observance was held on Capitol Hill.
Locally, people gathered for early morning breakfasts, lunchtime prayer outside the Aiken Municipal Building, in churches, and for a citywide service at Augusta’s Sacred Heart Cultural Center.
At each, speakers urged prayer for effective leaders, a strong military, honest businesses, and whole families.
David M. Piccolo, Augusta Christian Schools head of schools, has seen first-hand the effects of broken families.
“There’s not a day in my job where I don’t have some meeting regarding a family that is in disarray,” he said Thursday at Warren Baptist.
“In today’s world, what a daunting task it sometimes is to maintain strong, healthy relationships, whether in our immediate family or across the board. So Lord, please, assist us … Lord place in us a thirst for God’s word,” he prayed. “Arm us daily with your wisdom and insight guarding our families and relationships.”
McKinley also urged prayer for families.
“The weaker the family,” he said, “the weaker our nation.”