JOLIET – For families. For the church. For the military.
For peace and unity. For religious freedom.
"In times of steady calm and extraordinary change alike, Americans of all walks of life have long turned to prayer to seek refuge, demonstrate gratitude and discover peace," Dougherty said during Thursday's ecumenical service in Joliet, reading from President Barack Obama's 2016 National Day of Prayer presidential proclamation.
“Sustaining us through great uncertainty and moments of sorrow, prayer allows us an outlet for introspection, and for expressing our hopes, desires and fears,” Dougherty read.
Thursday marked the second annual National Day of Prayer in Joliet hosted by the Joliet Region Interfaith Education Council – a coalition of faith-based organizations working in partnership with Joliet Township High School District 204.
One by one, pastors from churches such as Kingdom Builders, Harvest Bible Chapel, Mount Zion Baptist Church and One Vision Worship Center came forward to the front of the Richards Street church to pray with those in the pews.
Glenda McCullum, senior pastor with Kingdom Builders International, sang at the church.
The Rev. Naurice Moffett, community liaison for the council, said while the event is based in the Christian faith, JRIEC welcomed people from all walks to join in prayer Thursday.
“Prayer is powerful. For me, it’s my time with God, to let him know how I’m feeling, and for me to hear what he has to say,” Moffett said. “It gives you peace, and the peace just falls on you.”
Maxine Wiley of Joliet said she attended the hourlong prayer
session because she wanted to pray for the youth in the community.
Wiley said she prays every day to “fulfill her relationship with Jesus Christ.” She urged others to pray for one another, and also to strengthen individual relationships with God.
“This world needs prayer,” she said.
According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, the annual National Day of Prayer event was founded on the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The nationwide recognition of prayer – held on the first Thursday every May – brings people of different faiths together.
A Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2014 found that nearly half of all Americans rely on prayer and personal religious reflection when making major life decisions. The same survey, according to Pew, found praying regularly is an essential part of religious identity for more than 60 percent of Christians in the U.S.
Eric Posteluk, senior pastor for Harvest Bible Chapel in Joliet, prayed for the military and national government officials, asking that God “lead them down the right path” in protecting religious freedom.
The Rev. Kevin Comfort, senior pastor with Judson Memorial Baptist Church in Joliet, prayed for peace and unity.
He asked those in the pews to “ask for peace” and to “make peace with one another.”
“Help us understand that peace begins with us,” Comfort prayed.