James Flynn was 9 years old when his next-door neighbor started a prison ministry.
"Cotton," as he's nicknamed, would go with him on Sundays to sing to the inmates.
"It's days like that you just don't forget in your life," he said Thursday morning from the stage at Warren Baptist Church.
Mr. Flynn, now a sales representative at Jim Hudson Lexus, spoke at the National Day of Prayer Breakfast, the first of many local events that marked the annual observance Thursday.
Like Mr. Flynn, we should each strive to serve others, said Robert Williams, the president of Miracle Making Ministries, the community development organization that benefited from the breakfast's proceeds.
"We're real proud to be able to serve the least of these in this community," Mr. Williams said.
It was a recurring theme in the many prayers offered for families, government, churches, schools, businesses, the military and the media. They're called the "seven centers of power," and they're the focus of the National Day of Prayer.
The theme of the 57th annual observance was "Prayer! America's Strength and Shield," and inspired by Psalm 28:7.
As a city, Augusta is blessed, Mayor Deke Copenhaver said.
"I fundamentally believe the Lord is doing a great work in Augusta, Ga.," he told the hundreds who gathered for the breakfast.
But the community's needs are still great -- about 20 percent of Augustans live below the poverty line, Mr. Copenhaver said -- and prayer is both an opportunity to give thanks for what we have and to intercede for those less fortunate.
LaVerne Gold, the president and CEO of the United Way of the CSRA, was one of many community leaders who prayed at the breakfast.
"In serving you, we learn to serve others," she prayed on behalf of the community's nonprofit groups.
So many people, Mr. Flynn said, try to serve others without relying on God's power.
Prayer, he said, provides the necessary access to that power.
Do that, Mr. Flynn said, "then we will see a major change in our country, our community and our lives."
Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or email@example.com.
First lady says Sanford family relies on faith
NORTH AUGUSTA --- South Carolina first lady Jenny Sanford discussed the faith of the state's first family Thursday during the 19th annual Mayor's Prayer Luncheon.
Mrs. Sanford, a mother of four boys, said raising a family with a spouse in the state's highest political office can be trying.
"We both believe we find strength in the faith we practice on a daily basis, and we think others should do the same," she said.
The first lady, a Catholic, married to Protestant Gov. Mark Sanford, said they try to expose their children to many Christian traditions.
-- Scott Trubey, staff writer