Americans Unite in Prayer for Country

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WASHINGTON - On the heels of a global health scare, the economy in recession, and two wars overseas -- if there ever was a time to pray, it's now, according to those who attended the National Day of Prayer service on Capitol Hill.

"The moment we give up on prayer, we have given up our hope. It's not a time for hopelessness," said Beth Moore, who serves on the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

The service brought people together in song, scripture reading, and prayer for our leaders - from the national to the local level.

"We have folks all over America - individually, fellowship groups, prayer groups in churches - joining us in praying that we build a wall of prayer around our Capital much as Nehemiah built a wall in the old testament," Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., said.

"It's an awesome privilege to say they're praying for those of us in public service from the President of the United States to the city council," Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said. "It is a humbling thing to know that we are being carried before the throne of grace."

The Capitol Hill event is symbolic of the nation's rich religious heritage and history which dates all the way back to 1775, when the Continental Congress issued its first call for fasting and prayer -- 234 years later, some of the nation's leaders are making the same call.

"First of all, I pray that you ask that all judges, including me, be given discernment," Justice Priscilla Owen said.

Representatives from the military and the judicial and legislative branches showed up. But for the first time in over 10 years, the executive was a no-show, and a big let down for organizers.

"All I can tell you is this - that when the professional baseball team wins the World Series, or when the Superbowl is played, or when college teams win the national championship, they're invited to the White House," Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family said. "That's important, apparently, but celebrating prayer, which is our heritage, which is what these people are talking about is ignored."

But in keeping with precedent, Mr. Obama did sign a proclamation, calling "upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God's continued guidance, grace and protection for this land that we love."

Those who attended say they were encouraged to faithfully pray.

"When somebody says, 'hey, do you pray,' they say, 'dinner, before I go to bed, when I wake up - Lord, thank you, Jesus.' It's kind of like a fast food hit and run thing, and a real intimate conversation is not taught," said Shaun Alexander, 2005 NFL MVP.

A woman from King George, Va., who attended Thursday's event agrees that the nation needs to take praying to the next level.

"Prayer is the essential. It is the essential ingredient for us as believers in America, and we must get a passion for prayer," Greta Cook said.

Supporters say the critical needs of the world serve as a reminder that the call to prayer is not limited to one day. But they say one day of united prayer could change the world for generations to come.

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John Jessup serves as the main news anchor for CBN, a position he assumed after 10 years reporting for the network in Washington, D.C. His work in broadcast news has earned him several awards in reporting, producing, and coordinating elections coverage. Follow John on Twitter @JohnCBNNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/John.V.Jessup.