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National Day of Prayer observed Thursday
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National Day of Prayer observed Thursday

National Day of Prayer

It’s been 70 years since the first National Day of Prayer was observed, and organizers said the need to gather and pray is just as strong today.

“Everybody talks about unity and God is the only one who is going to put this world back together,” said Deborah Martin Irby, area coordinator for the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Wiregrass residents are invited to attend a National Day of Prayer observance on Thursday inside the chapel of First Baptist Church in Dothan.

Attendees will pray for the community, leaders and the nation. People are asked to gather between 6 and 6:20 a.m. so that the prayer service can begin promptly at 6:30 a.m. and conclude at 7:30 a.m. to give everyone time to get to work or school on time.

Too often, Irby said, people wait for God to fix everything that’s wrong in the world rather than mobilizing and taking action.

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“We expect God to do so much, and we have to do something,” she said.

Area leaders participating this year include Taylor Rutland, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dothan; Dothan Mayor Mark Saliba; Judge Ed Jackson; Russell Dean of Faith Radio; Jason and Kim Duren of Victory Family Church; Dothan Police Capt. Will Glover; Dothan Fire Department Chaplain Allen Singley; Earl Kelley of Joy FM; Jeff Torrence, principal of Faine Elementary School in Dothan; Charles Lewis of Dothan Community Church; Kevin Woodcock of the Harbor Church; and Tim Willis of Ridgecrest Baptist Church.

Last year, the observance was held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Feb. 3, 1952, an evangelist named Billy Graham preached to a crowd of 40,000 people on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to show the country’s leaders the importance of prayer. A bill was passed a few days later that required the president to set aside a day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer.

In 1988, the first Thursday in May was set aside for the annual observance for people of all faiths. Although, the National Day of Prayer website points out that national calls to pray in America date back to 1775, including one by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

Irby said it’s important to pray for aspects of the community and country, such as law enforcement or nurses or the judicial system.

“God tells us to pray specifically…,” Irby said. “We’re not in this alone; it takes all of us.”

Peggy Ussery is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at or 334-712-7963. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at

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