Nation Sets Aside Differences to 'Pray for America'

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WASHINGTON -- The nation marked the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer on Thursday, with millions of Americans participating from coast to coast. But the main event took place in Washington, D.C.

From near and far, people packed the halls of the United States Capitol to "Pray for America," the motto for this year's annual observance.

It started 62 years ago and organizers say it now has grown to include more than 42,000 prayer gatherings across the country.

The crowd was filled with familiar faces, like Vonette Bright, James and Shirley Dobson, and the legendary Pat Boone.

Together they prayed for repentance, for blessing, and for our leaders in the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government -- all of which were represented.

Barry Black, chaplain of the Senate, urged people to stop praying for just themselves and to start praying for their leaders, even if they disagree with their politics.

For many here, the concern is a culture slipping further away from its Christian roots, a topic addressed by keynote speaker Greg Laurie, pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California.

He implored the crowd that now, more than ever, is the time to pray.

Gay rights activists, however, denounced Laurie's participation, citing his "blatantly anti LGBT message."

"Pastor Laurie's message is out of step with what the majority of people of faith across this country believe," said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of Human Rights Campaign Religion and Faith Program.

But supporters say Laurie's only guilty of preaching the Bible.

Despite what they see, people in attendance said prayer gives them hope for the future and are looking forward to coming together to pray again this time next year.

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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.