Area residents observe National Day of Prayer

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 7, 2010

For visitors Joe and Roberta Smith, a sign from God changed vacation plans Thursday.

The literal sign outside St. Mary Basilica directed the couple to Natchez’s National Day of Prayer observance.

The Smiths, residents of Holiday Island, Ark., was a little disappointed they would miss the annual prayer day in their hometown. But their disappointment faded when they found the group in Memorial Park.

“We have been blessed to be here in prayer,” Roberta said.

“There are some fine believers here,” Joe said. “This is probably the highlight of our trip.”

Adams County residents congregated at the Natchez Ministerial Alliance’s National Day of Prayer, featuring 10 local ministers from all denominations.

“That is what makes this special,” alliance member Bo Swilley said. “It crosses racial and denominational lines.”

Roberta Smith said her spirit was uplifted when she arrived at Memorial Park Thursday morning.

“We all worship the same God, and it is good to see people here worshiping,” she said.

“God’s people are everywhere,” Joe said.

While Natchez’s day of prayer is different from Holiday Island’s, it still brings people together in prayer, which the Smiths said is important.

“We feel very strongly about the power of prayer and joining with other God’s people,” Roberta said. “Nothing happens without the power of prayer — it has the power to uplift spirits and change lives for the better.”

In Vidalia, Concordia Parish residents gathered for prayer in Vidalia City Hall, something Mayor Hyram Copeland said was only appropriate.

“Every time we have a critical issue that takes place in Vidalia, we make a round of phone calls and ask the ministers in the area to pray for us,” he said. “That is why we have grown the way we have in Vidalia.”

Those gathered in City Hall prayed for the civic and elected leaders of the area, for the school administrations and students, police and safety officials and for national leadership.

“We pray for our President, Barack Obama,” Pastor Troy Thomas said. “(God) help him to make right decisions. We pray he would be so fired up in the Holy Ghost that he will stand up for Jesus.”

The Rev. Willis Ivory stood and prayed for God to reconcile national leaders with differing political opinions.

“We ask (God) to bring them together and end all of this bickering so they may get something done,” Ivory said.

Those in attendance also prayed for social and environmental issues.

“We pray for the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, because we love all (God’s) creation,” Ivory said.

Vidalia Methodist Church Pastor Ray Varnado reflected on the belief that all people are created in the image of God.

“In this city of Vidalia, we have a beautiful town, yet there are people in this town who are hurting,” he said.

Because God loves everyone and everyone is a child of God, Varnado prayed for those in need of food, health care and housing.

“Let us be (God’s) hands reaching out to needy people,” he said.

Thomas said he had a dream of seeing the Day of Prayer turn into a full-time prayer circle, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“During the Persian Gulf War, we did it for at least 30 days,” Thomas said. “It is like we were so afraid of what was going to happen that we started praying. I think we ought to pray when there isn’t a war — but there is always a spiritual war.”

A number of area residents also gathered at Riverland Medical Center’s flag pole in Ferriday for the Day of Prayer.