For the first time in three years, area residents were able to gather publicly to mark the National Day of Prayer in both Mount Airy and Dobson.
The annual observance, held the first Thursday in May across the nation, was cancelled locally in both 2020 and 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, leaving the Mount Airy Ministerial Association to commemorate the day with local radio broadcasts.
This year, the organization was able to once again hold public gatherings, with more than 40 people on hand for the noontime observance in Mount Airy, and more than 60 turning out in Dobson for the prayer service.
“A sweeter day in the whole year cannot be found,” Dr. David Sparks told those who were gathered on the lawn of the city municipal building in Mount Airy. Calling it a “very solemn day,” Sparks — pastor at Flat Rock Pentecostal Holiness Church — said thousands upon thousands of people were gathering publicly across America for the Day of Prayer.
Mount Airy Mayor Ron Niland said this year’s service takes on a particular poignancy because of the Russian invasion of and war with Ukraine.
“We are gathering today to pray, while they are just trying to survive,” he said, urging those in attendance to pray for Ukraine and its people as well as for America.
During his remarks, Rev. Danny Miller of Central United Methodist Church spoke of the Apostle Paul and his writing to the church in Colossae, telling the church members there that he prayed for them daily, seeking God’s guidance in their growth and maturity as Christians.
Miller said Paul encouraged them to pray as well, to stay true to God, and to not be discouraged or led astray by false teachings — “disinformation, if you will,” he said.
Miller then encouraged those in attendance to remain strong in their prayer life, because that was a key to building a relationship with God.
“This shouldn’t be the only day that we pray. That wouldn’t be much of a relationship,” he said, exhorting those wishing to grow in their relationship with God to pray daily, to pray multiple times a day.
“Prayer is just talking to God. It doesn’t have to be fancy.”
His comments came after Mayor Niland had read a proclamation declaring Thursday a Day of Prayer in Mount Airy. During his remarks, he traced the history of the National Day of Prayer, with its earliest mention coming in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonists to pray for “wisdom in forming a nation.”
“…the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of ‘humility, fasting, and prayer’ in 1863.”
In 1952, he read from the document, Congress passed a joint resolution — which was signed by President Truman — declaring a national day of prayer, and in 1988 the law was amended and signed by President Reagan setting the day as the first Thursday in May.
A similar scene played out in Dobson at noon, with Pastor DM Dalton, president the ministerial association, overseeing the service there, with Dr. Rick Jackson of Welcome Baptist Church delivering the message to those gathered on the courthouse lawn.