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National Day Of Prayer Observed Throughout Nation Today

“America United Under God” is the 51st Annual National Day of Prayer theme; a poignant reminder of the tragedy that brought together a nation.

Hundreds of Mother Lode area residents are expected take a moment to stop during their day and pray. A large prayer gathering is being held starting at 7 p.m. tonight in Courthouse Square on South Washington Street in Sonora.

As our service men and women defend the United States in distant lands and families try to heal from the tragedies of September 11, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) invites millions of Americans to once again join hands across denominational lines for a day of prayer on May 2.

The Scripture verse adopted for the 2002 observance, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1), is especially meaningful given the world´s instability and the promise of an uncertain future.

NDP organizers expect the crowds to be unprecedented, far surpassing the millions who attended the 30,000 events held nationally last year. Participants will gather at courthouses, businesses, around school flagpoles, in places of worship and public arenas.

Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, Chaplain of the United States Senate, has written a prayer that will be read at noon; the President will authorize a special proclamation; and all 50 governors are expected to sign documents recognizing the occasion.

The National Day of Prayer tradition dates back to February 19, 1795, when President George Washington issued a proclamation setting aside a day of public thanksgiving. An annual day of prayer was established by Congress in 1952 and specifically designated in 1988 as the first Thursday in May.

For the first time in U.S. history, a bill enacting a permanent national day of prayer passed both houses. The Senate bill, S. 1378, was introduced by South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond, while the House version was introduced by Ohio democrat Tony Hall.

The measure amends a 1952 law which required the president to proclaim a day of his choosing each year. President Reagan signed the bill into law in the Oval Office on May 5th.

The measure was the result of an unusual bi-partisan effort. Four congressmen co-sponsored the measure: Rep. Carlos Moorhead (R-CA), Rep. Robert Garcia (D-NY), Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), and Rep. Tony Hall (D-OH). Senate co-sponsors were: Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC), Bill Armstrong (R- CO), Sen. Howard Heflin (D-AL), and Sen. Lawton Chiles (D-FL).

The National Prayer Committee was started in 1982 to coordinate and implement the commemorated day of prayer. Sorensen said there has been a steady increase in the number of governors and mayors participating.

“The only hindrance is the state not knowing about it. However, a lot of other groups hold observances that we are not even aware of.” The first day of prayer was declared by the Continental Congress in 1775.

In President Reagan´s 1987 proclamation, he stated, “On our National Day of Prayer, then, we join together as people of many faiths to petition God to show us His mercy and His love, to heal our weariness and uphold our hope, that we might live ever mindful of His justice and thankful for His blessing.”