Nearly 100 community residents gathered together at Tooele’s Veteran’s Memorial Park last Thursday to celebrate the National Day of Prayer.
In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Ronald Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.
Locally, the National Day of Prayer has been celebrated for more than a decade. It’s organized each year by New Life Christian Fellowship in Tooele.
Pete Kirchoff, associate pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship, welcomed the crowd to the event by speaking about the importance of prayer.
“We are going to sing praises of God’s greatness,” he said. “We need that reminder. We look at crises across the country and in our own Tooele County. We need to be reminded of God’s greatness.”
Erik Gumbrecht, Tooele County Republican Party chairman, read a prayer given by Greg Laurie, a pastor from Southern California who served as the honorary chairman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force in Washington, D.C.
“Send a mighty spiritual awakening that will turn the hearts of men and women, boys and girls, back to you,” read Gumbrecht. “You have told us if we will humble ourselves and pray, and seek your face and turn from our wicked ways, that you will forgive our sins and heal our land.”
Chris Begnaud, pastor of Tooele Springs Calvary Chapel, then prayed for government leaders, from the president of the United States down to local schoolteachers.
He said that a “nation that Fears God, serves God and desires to bless God” is what America needs to survive the turmoil its currently experiencing.
Next, Bill Upton, pastor of Tooele First Assembly of God, prayed for police, fire and military personnel. He said just this year, 39 law enforcement officers in the United States have lost their lives.
“We thank you, Lord, for the men and women who have signed a contract and agreed to give their lives for this nation,” Upton said in his prayer. “Bless them and administer to them and meet their needs. We pray for not only the men and women who serve, but for their families who are waiting and hoping and watching.”
Trevor Richard, associate pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship, then prayed for children and teenagers.
“The children are the greatest among us,” he said in his prayer. “We can look at them as a nuisance and as troublemakers, but [God’s] heart is for the children. We pray for the children of America who are growing up in broken homes, violence and not knowing who you are, God. We entrust our nation’s young people to you, Father.”
Lastly, Mark Runyon, senior pastor at New Life Christian Fellowship, prayed for families and marriages. He spoke of the importance of raising children in their Godly heritage.
“We need to take back what the enemy has stolen,” he said. “Kids aren’t listening. They’re watching. It has to begin with parents. We can stand and pray, but our kids are watching what we do.”
Runyon also spoke of the importance of the institution of marriage, and that divorce is one of the greatest fears a child has today.
“We have to stand against divorce,” he said. “Divorce can be eradicated if we stand up against it.”
Throughout the hour-long prayer service, shouts of amen, hallelujah and clapping could be heard throughout the crowd. Songs praising God were sung in between the prayers and a hot dog lunch was served afterward.
“We have got to realize the power of prayer that we have, not just to come together in unity on a day like this, but in our every day life,” Runyon said. “Forces of darkness will flee as we begin to lift up Jesus in prayer.”