Praying for God's love, mercy at services

by Sean Dunlap

Services were held in two Franklin County communities at noon on Thursday, May 5 as part of the National Day of Prayer observance with pastors, local leaders and residents coming together in seeking God’s intervention and guidance.

“Prayer is the basis of our country, and a national day of prayer – established by the Continental Congress – goes back to 1775,” Meadville Mayor Lane B. Reed said in opening his town’s program at the First Baptist Church Fellowship Hall on Edison Street.

Reed noted the modern incarnation of the service traces its roots to 1952 and encourages Americans to pray on and celebrate the day with prayer and thanksgiving in seeking God’s guidance on important pillars of the nation’s foundation such as the government, military, education, churches and families.

“This day makes me look at my own prayer life,” the mayor noted.

In citing thoughts by Oswald Chambers, an early-20th-century Scottish Baptist evangelist and teacher of the Gospel, Reed said the famed author pointed out people tend to use prayer as a last resort, but God wants it to be a first line of defense.

“We pray when there’s nothing else we can do, but God wants us to pray before we do anything at all,” Reed said in quoting Chambers. “Most of us would prefer, however, to spend our time doing something that will get immediate results. We don’t want to wait for God to resolve matters in His good time because His idea of ‘good time’ is seldom in sync with ours.”

Pastor Rickey O’Quinn started Meadville’s observance by asking God to look upon all levels of government and for His blessings upon those who work for the betterment and advancement of the nation’s citizens.

“We are thankful for each official in his or her capacity, and God has taught us to pray for those in leadership positions,” O’Quinn said.

“I ask that God give them wisdom, knowledge and understanding as they guide His people. We pray God will raise up leaders for positions as He is the reason for their being in those roles of authority.”

O’Quinn also prayed for the American military who, he said, puts their lives on the line daily in protecting the ideals of liberty and freedom.

He also remembered those who had made the ultimate sacrifice in serving their nation.

“Even as I pray, there are many of these individuals in harm’s way and we thank God for the men and women who take their responsibilities to their land seriously,” he continued.

“We also thank God for peace realizing that so many play a role in making that a reality, and we believe as His word tells us we will eventually study war no more.”

Senior Pastor Larry Edwards of Praise Cathedral Church of God, in praying for the nation’s media, said this sector has some of the most impactful influences on American life and culture.

“Fifty years ago, we didn’t have things like iPhones, iPads or laptops, and technology has come so far,” Edwards said.

“On this day of prayer, we approach God as we are bombarded through the news we listen to or read, the shows and movies that we watch and the internet we spend time on.

“(The media) can be used for good and for bad, and there is a battle going on for our hearts, souls and minds. The enemy is using every means possible — and media is certainly one of them — in the strategies used against us.”

Edwards went on to ask for God’s wisdom and discernment in the use of media, and asked for forgiveness where His people have come short in allowing those influences to interfere with a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

Additionally, he prayed for the media to be a means for the Gospel to reach people from all walks of life and to open doors for God’s message to touch those who might not otherwise hear the Good News.

Brother Tom Griffin, in offering prayers for businesses and education, said Franklin County has been blessed through the years with a great number of leaders who understood the value of being servants to their fellow man.

“We are thankful for the business environment we have here and for those who have gone on for the foundation they have laid — integrity, compassion and intelligence — and we ask God to help us follow in their footsteps,” he prayed.

“We ask God to be with our workforce and as we come to work everyday, we would come as if we were working for thee.”

Griffin went on to pray for businesses to be successful and to give back to God’s glory and to His communities through their blessings that come through financial profits.

In praying for schools, Griffin noted tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and business leaders are walking the halls of Franklin Elementary, Middle and High schools right now.

“We are so blessed in our community to have a fine public school system, and we ask for blessings for our parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts and siblings to take an interest in education,” he added.

“We also pray for each teacher in granting patience, compassion and love that they might desire the very best for each child. Also, we pray for each child to have a sense of worth and know how much he or she means to our community.”

Pastor Keith Smith of Meadville First Baptist Church lifted up the community’s churches and families — two entities he cited as being created by God, but areas of the American landscape that have been under attack for some time.

“As we think about the church and family, we know our hope and longevity is here because they are the bases on which Jesus Christ will build His church and the gates of Hell will not dwell against them,” Smith said.

“When it comes to the truth of God’s Word, churches need to stand on that and our pastors and our families need our prayers … as God’s people, we need unity in the bond of the Holy Spirit.”

Smith said God’s heart is in His church and its role in presenting the Gospel throughout the world is more important than at any time in history.

He prayed people would bind themselves with God’s presence and lift up the church so that it can continue its mission of bringing souls to Christ for salvation.

Smith prayed for families who are the backbone of churches and who are the men and women that have dedicated themselves to Christ and the work of His church.

“I pray today that the world we live in — where it seems like everything is against the family — that we would stand firm and people will take the leadership roles in their families and to be the people they need to be to raise children the way they need to be raised,” he added.

Warren Walker, who serves as Franklin County’s Circuit Clerk and a member of Meadville First Baptist Church, closed the program by saying he was thankful to live in a place where people from different walks of life and religious backgrounds could come together in one accord to hold this kind of service.

“I am thankful to live in a country where we have this freedom,” Walker continued.

“We are also thankful to be able to come with our hearts and minds focused on what God has done and will continue to do for our community and nation. While this is the National Day of Prayer, we have the opportunity to talk to God every day.”

Will Lott of Bude Church of God said the National Day of Prayer observance in that community similarly sought to bring believers together to seek God’s blessings on the cares and concerns they have about local, regional, state, national and international issues.

“We pray for America and for God to unite us in His love, as we exalt the Lord, who has established us,” Lott said.

He noted God established America through the hearts of its Founding Fathers and the documents they penned declaring our dependence on His sovereignty and supremacy.

Lott went on to say the nation needs to turn its eyes toward God, for people to love their peers and for individuals to emulate the attitudes, affections and actions of the Holy Spirit.

Robert Fleming of New Bethel Baptist Church prayed for governments — from the local through federal levels — and asked for God’s intervention in helping those in leadership positions to be of one accord.

“Give them the minds to want to work together and do what is best for God’s people and the nation as a whole,” Fleming said.

“We plead the blood of Jesus on our leaders that they would be covered in their decisions, and that they would be obedient on how He wants them to live and govern.”

Fleming also offered prayer for the nation’s military men and women for the role they play in protecting America’s way of life and the freedoms enjoyed by its people.

“We ask for strength and courage for each of them as they live their lives, many times away from their families and loved ones,” he continued. “Our prayer is for God’s divine protection on each of them — especially those in harm’s way. We seek peace in this land and elsewhere knowing that He will give us a peace beyond all understanding and for love, joy and happiness.”

Heather Hensarling of Meadville United Methodist Church said God entrusted His people with a beautiful day to come together for the National Day of Prayer observance.

Then, in offering a prayer for the media, arts and entertainment communities, she lifted up the sectors that give a voice to the voiceless, hold the powerful accountable and call for justice in society.

“For these good things, we give thanks,” Hensarling said. “But sadly, we confess the industry falls short of these high standards in ways that are hurtful and damaging to His creation. Forgive these failures and give them wisdom and integrity, as well as creativity and courage to glorify God.”

She also prayed for the cultivation of concern for all members of the world’s cultures, to use news as prompts for individual prayers on a daily basis and ideas on how people can better serve their communities.

Tony Mullins of Hopewell Baptist Church, in praying for the businesses of Franklin County, noted these are difficult times on many levels and went on to say that people of faith need to lift up those who drive the local economy.

“We pray for God to help us realize that behind the businesses we have there are people that seek to make a living for themselves and their families,” Mullins said.

“Our prayer is for their success and that their hearts will always be grateful for what He has done. We also pray for our residents to support these businesses today and every day.”

Mark Davis, who attends Bude Church of God and who serves as a local agent with Farm Bureau Insurance in Franklin County, said he was proud to be part of a family of believers united in a community of faith through Jesus Christ.

He prayed for those in education locally and around the nation, asking God to provide for a safe and secure learning environment to allow society to bring up future leaders who will be courageous and wise.

“We lift up our educational systems today in being with our administrators, teachers, personnel and students,” Davis said.

“Also, we ask for God’s will in teaching sound doctrine and good things in every classroom so that we can raise this next generation to be godly.”

Norma Kelly, an alderman for the Town of Bude who is also affiliated with New Bethel Baptist Church, offered a prayer for churches and their congregations.

“Churches are an assembly as a body of believers coming together to worship Jesus and not the buildings where we meet,” Kelly said. “The church is in our hearts, and we have to love those around us and not worry so much about denominations.”

Kelly went on to ask for God to be at the center the lives of believers and church leaders including pastors and laymen as well as everyone in their respective communities here and elsewhere.

“We ask the Lord to bless every church in Franklin County because there is a need for your mighty touch upon all of us,” Kelly continued. “We need God’s presence in our lives and his intervention in the affairs of our churches where our focus is on Him and not the things of this world.”

Bude First Baptist Church’s Brother Tyson Windom offered the prayer director toward families, entities which he described being as a blessing from God.

“There’s no greater gift — other than our salvation — than our families and He ultimately defines it ... it is not defined by this world,” Windom said.

“The Lord tells us to come to Him in boldness and with hearts of one accord — the reality is the world is in the shape that it’s in because we, as families, have walked away from God.”

Windom said societal weaknesses stem from a lack of godly strength and guidance in families near and far.

“We tend to give our times to everything other than God and give responsibility for raising up our children to the world,” he continued.

“Our prayer is for the re-establishment of what God meant for the family to be geared toward worship, learning and fellowship.”

Editor’s note: Franklin Advocate staffer Ann Peeples contributed to this report.