Kyrissa Trickle (left) and Rachel Warneking (right), Sonrise Academy high school students, will be singing "Indescribable Chords" at the National Day of Prayer on May 2nd. Kyrissa Trickle (left) and Rachel Warneking (right), Sonrise Academy high school students, will be singing "Indescribable Chords" at the National Day of Prayer on May 2nd. Contributed photo
The National Day of Prayer, a presidentially proclaimed annual event since 1952, is set for Thursday, May 2, at 5:30 p.m. at Sorosis Park.
The theme this year is “Pray for America,” and the related biblical passage is Matthew 12:21: “In his name the nations will put their hope.”
There will be thousands of similar events across the nation on that day.
The event is sponsored by the local chapter of Concerned Women for America and Sonrise Academy.
Darlien France is chairing the local event and has since 1996. Prior to that, it was sponsored by Pastor George Clark of Rowena Baptist Church and The Dalles Ministerial Association.
The goal of the event is “to bring prayer back into our nation,” France said. “Everything started changing when they took prayer out of the schools.”
Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings in 1962 and 1963 outlawed prayer and Bible readings in public schools. The National Day of Prayer started in 1952 when President Harry S. Truman signed a proclamation. The specific day of the first Thursday in May was set in 1988. Since then, presidents have at the very least signed yearly proclamations observing the day. President George W. Bush has been the only one to host an event at the White House each year of his term.
For the ecumenical ceremony, France makes a point to find different ministers from the area each year to participate. This year, Pastor Andy Johnson from First Church of Nazarene will give the opening prayer and Jeremiah Porter, the new pastor at Calvary Baptist Church, will give the closing prayer.
The emcee for the event will be Sonrise Administrator Scott Winters. Special music will be provided for the event by Sonrise Academy students. The worship will be led by the Gorge Gospel Riders.
The event, which usually lasts about an hour, typically draws about 100 people, depending on the weather, from a variety of churches, France said.
Asked if she feels the event has an impact, France said, “Some years more than others. With the terrorist acts going on I think people really feel the impact and people are really drawn to come and pray. Even though we pray for all kinds of things. We pray for the nation, of course, we pray for the community and our legislature, especially this year when it’s in session. We pray for our local county commissioners, for city officials.”
The format offers an open mike where people can come and offer their prayers. France is still struck by the prayer of a teen boy who, through tears, offered a powerful prayer not too many years ago.
“It was just awesome.”
The most common prayer is “just for a return to our Lord in our nation,” France said.
A religious revival in America is the goal, and France said.
“Everybody is praying for it. We know it’s going to happen. I know its coming.”
The prayer session used to wind its way through downtown, from the Transportation Center to the Courthouse steps. But the permits required meant it was easier to meet at Sorosis Park. The group began meeting at the park in 2001.