SALT LAKE CITY — Utahns from across the religious spectrum will gather Thursday at various locations to participate in the National Day of Prayer, uniting their faith in supplication to God on behalf of their communities and their country.
“Prayer is what links us to each other despite our differences,” said Jim Harris, assistant pastor at Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake, which is hosting its annual National Day of Prayer breakfast and prayer service from 8-10 a.m. “It is through prayer that all faith groups communicate to God. And when we join forces to reach out and pray for God’s hand to be upon our nation, I really believe it makes a difference.”
Thousands of like-minded believers will be participating in similar services around the country as part of the annual National Day of Prayer, an observance designated by Congress as a day for Americans “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”
In proclaiming Thursday, May 2, 2013, to be a National Day of Prayer, President Barack Obama called on citizens to give thanks, “in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings” and to ask “for God’s continued guidance, mercy and protection.”
Especially, Obama said, “let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Conn., shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas.
“Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters and other first responders who put themselves in harm's way to protect their fellow Americans,” he continued. “Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country.”
Obama urged Americans to “come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time."
And that is exactly what the Rev. Harris and the Calvary Chapel team have in mind for their Day of Prayer observance, which is free to the public.
“We just want to bring the community together to pray for our nation, our military, our families,” he said. “We’re going to fly the banner of faith and prayer because prayer makes a difference. I see it every day.”
Featured speaker at the Calvary Chapel prayer breakfast will be the Rev. Michael J. Imperiale, senior pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Salt Lake City. The Rev. Imperiale said Wednesday that he will be using the Lord’s Prayer from the New Testament as a model for the way we should pray in order to invoke God’s blessings on us as a people.
“It isn’t the words of the Lord’s Prayer that are important as much as it is the concepts,” he said. “So often we just ask God for his blessings. But we also need to give thanks and praise him for all that he has already done for us.”
Such prayers, the Rev. Imperiale said, don’t change God as much as they change us.
“That’s the value of having community prayer,” he said. “Bringing people together like this expands your vision and broadens your perspective. And something special happens when people from different faith traditions focus their prayers together. It not only brings you closer to God, but it also brings you closer to each other.
“The differences don’t go away,” the Rev. Imperiale said, “but they seem to matter less.”
Especially when National Day of Prayer observances emphasize things that are shared. “We really try to focus on what we can agree on,” said Rob Harter, executive director of the Christian Center of Park City, which is hosting its annual National Day of Prayer Community Breakfast Thursday morning from 7:30 to 9.
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