`The power of prayer'

Event: About 100 people gathered for Westminster's observance of the National Day of Prayer. Personal petitions and prayers for the country were presented.

May 07, 1999|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,SUN STAFF

Business leaders, politicians, office workers and homemakers spent the lunch hour yesterday in prayer.

About 100 people observed the National Day of Prayer at noon in a Westminster park. The microphones failed, rain threatened, and traffic plodded by noisily. Still, the atmosphere was imbued with reverence.

As four women softly sang "Sweet Hour of Prayer," a hymn "that calls us from the world of care," people closed their eyes, bowed their heads and folded their hands. Many clasped a neighbor's hand.

"Those who came out today really want to be here," said Marcia Reinhart, who organized the county's eighth observance of the event, held the first Thursday of May throughout the country.

The hourlong service followed the national theme: Light the nation with prayer. Reinhart opened with a plea for participation.

"If you feel as though you want to pray out loud, go ahead," she said. "This day is not you sitting with bowed heads and us talking. This is a conversation with you and God."

County Commissioner Donald I. Dell led prayers for families in Colorado in the wake of the school shootings and victims of the violent storms in the Midwest and gave thanks for "the many blessings in our lives." Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier fought back tears as she offered "thanks for this day and for all those who came out to lift prayers."

"I believe God places us wherever we are to be witnesses to him," she said, asking that God "walk with us today, not only on this day but every day."

Impromptu petitions were as varied as the crowd. Like Frazier's, prayers were often personal. They were also offered for children, the county and the nation.

"We pray for our country, which is in desperate straits," said Kathy Ward, surrounded by her five children. "If we don't pray, nothing else will do it."

Participants asked for tolerance, forgiveness and unity. The Rev. Chris Reuwer, pastor of Freedom Christian Church in Eldersburg, called for a "true changing of hearts."

"We have traded the truth for a fairy tale, and we are bearing the consequences," he said.

Connie Bounds, a member of Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, asked that "we become `one nation under God' once more."

Ann Magruder of New Windsor expected to be a passive participant, but said, "I heard the prayers of the righteous, and I became a prayer warrior."

"I was going to hold back, but I heard the other prayers and I just let go," she said, adding prayers for those battling substance abuse. "We have to lift up the standard in a loud voice."

The Rev. Larry Steen, pastor of Westminster Baptist Church, took up the theme and called on Christians to be strong and outspoken.

"We have to influence the standards of the world," Steen said. "When we don't, the world sees us as wishy-washy Christians. Church must be the lighthouse in our community."

A few children attended and were the object of many petitions.

"I believe the power of prayer will truly turn our country around," said Beverly Desrosiers, who brought her 2-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. "People here really believe in church and community. It is a legacy I want to leave for my daughter."

Ward, who home-schools her children, said the time off from their lessons was well spent.

"We came here just to pray with other people," said April Ward, 8.

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