FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — Service members and civilians of various faiths gathered this morning at the Main Post Chapel to pray for the community, the nation, its leaders and the armed forces during the National Day of Prayer event, hosted by Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Bradley Godding, Maneuver Support Center of Excellence command chaplain.
Godding provided the opening remarks for the event. He called it an opportunity for people of different religious beliefs and cultural practices to come together in “an act that unites us in common purpose.”
“The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage as a nation, since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation,” he said.
During the 30-minute event, religious community leaders from Christian-, Jewish- and Buddhist-based faiths offered prayers for the nation, its elected leaders, military leaders, the military, military families, peace and the community.
Chaplain (Maj.) Travis Hairston serves the Initial Entry Training Protestant community here. He helped organize this year’s event and provided the invocation, calling the solidarity of the faiths and their prayers “impactful.”
“We believe in the power of prayer, and its effect — not only on our community, but on our nation,” he said.
Hairston said prayer connects individuals “to something outside of ourselves — something that’s greater than ourselves.”
“When we pray — and we’re praying to a God that hears us, and that not only hears us, but cares — that helps us to answer the ‘why’ questions in life,” he said. “When we’re having a rough time; when things aren’t going our way — even through tragedy — by knowing that we can talk to our creator, our God or however we want to define that entity, it provides us that reassurance that we’re not alone.”
Congress created a law signed by President Harry Truman in 1952, calling on the president to proclaim the first Thursday in May each year as the National Day of Prayer.
In his proclamation this year, President Joe Biden called on American citizens “to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy and protection.”
“Throughout our history, prayer has been an anchor for countless Americans searching for strength and wisdom in times of struggle, and sharing hope and gratitude in seasons of joy,” Biden wrote. “In public reflections on life’s many blessings and in quiet moments during life’s most difficult trials, Americans of nearly every background and faith have turned to prayer for comfort and inspiration. Prayer is a sacred right protected by free speech and religious liberty enshrined in our Constitution, and it continues to lift our spirits as we navigate the challenges of our time.”