SIKESTON -- Local religious leaders are calling Sikeston to pray on Thursday in honor of the 54th annual National Day of Prayer.
The National Day of Prayer begins with the Kiwanis Club's prayer breakfast set for 6:30 a.m. at the First Christian Church, where guest speaker will be mayor of Troy, Charles Kemper Jr.
"Our country was founded on the Judeo-Christian principle, and it's important to recognize that. This particular day is set aside for prayers for our president, government, elected officials, country community leaders, and those that are in harm's way overseas," said Jonathan Maloyed, Kiwanis Club member and part of the club's spiritual development committee.
This year's national theme is "That God shed his grace on thee" with the local theme being "Calling Sikeston to Pray."
"We just want to use this as an opportunity to bring the community together and recognize the importance of prayer and spiritual develop," said Maloyed, adding one of the goals of the Kiwanis Club is building spiritual development among individuals.
The Sikeston Ministerial Alliance is urging residents to meet at noon Thursday at the Sikeston City Hall for a time of prayer.
"We're encouraging people to meet at the city steps and have a time of gathering there to pray for our leaders, national, local and city, and a time of hopefully unifying people in one effort," said David Jackson, associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Sikeston and president of the Sikeston Ministerial Alliance.
Then from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. the Tanner Street Church of God is also hosting a community prayer session. Lloyd Smith will represent U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson at the church and present prayer concerns while State Rep. Lanie Black will send his concerns via e-mail, said Larry Smith, associate pastor at Tanner Street Church of God.
Unlike years past, there will not be a televised program of the National Day of Prayer happenings in Washington, D.C. Instead the two-hour session will be spent praying.
"We will break the two hours down into eight areas and will be spending about 15 minutes praying for the educational system, local government, churches, media outlets and all branches of armed forces and others," Smith said.
Although public prayer is something that may have increased following current events such as 9-11 and the Asian Tsunami Disaster, it's also something that was implemented by the fore fathers of the America, Maloyed pointed out.
"It harkens back to the days when George Washington and other presidents issued proclamations of prayers, and from a patriotic standpoint, it mixes the two together, " Maloyed said about the National Day of Prayer.
But it's unity that is the key to changing a community, Smith said.
"Prayer has been lifted to a new level. Not just because of 9-11 but across the spectrum of Christianity and people have come to a new understanding of what prayer can accomplish," Smith said. Jackson agreed.
"The day of prayer is about unifying ourselves and focusing our energy and signifying that we do need help as individuals and as a nation -- and asking God for that help," Jackson said. "I'm one that believes in prayer -- and prayer changes people, and people change things."