'The Response' Prayer Rally Bigger Than Expected

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HOUSTON -- Thousands of people gathered Saturday in Houston to pray for our nation.

Thousands more across the country joined the event by watching the live video streaming via the Internet in their homes or in the 1,000 churches across the country who participated.

It was a call to prayer by Texas Gov. Rick Perry and "The Response" was stronger than anticipated.

It wasn't a ballgame, a concert or even a speaker that drew 30,000 people to Houston's Reliant Stadium. It was seven hours of continuous worship.

"The church is responding to a call to prayer," one person said.

"I just wanted to come to pray for our nation," explained Alma Parra.

"And also pray for the people who are out of work, families who are in need and just that we can get our spending under control," said Antonio Parra.

Gov. Perry called for the event, but there was no fanfare surrounding his appearance. He simply walked out on stage, started reading scripture and praying.

"As a nation we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us and for what we cry out for your forgiveness," Perry prayed.

"It's awesome to see our governor reading scripture and believing in God," said Carlos Herrera.

Perry is expected to announce a bid for president in the coming weeks. And while he may have been speaking the language of evangelical Christian voters, he made no mention of his future.

"It's not politics or anything like that. It's Jesus. It's God," said Xavier Gonzalez.

The governor's involvement drew several dozen protestors as gay pride flags dotted the sidewalk.

The Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, protested the homosexual protestors and the prayer rally, while others dubbed the governor "Pastor Perry."

"I feel that it completely erases if not blurs anyway, the separation between church and state," said Kevin Clem, one of the protestors.

However, any controversy was left at the door, along with political labels as thousands of Christians gathered to worship at this historic event.

"It is extremely scary when we think about going into the future in a country that's turned away from the Lord," said Charis Johnson.

"I think this is a great place for us to start getting things turned around, get down on our knees before our maker," said Penny Nance, the chief executive officer of Concerned Women of America.

"You call us to repent Lord and this day is our response. We give it all to you for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Amen. Amen. Amen," Perry said.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.