Margaret Walser brought her 10-year-old daughter, Eleacia, to Riverfront Park on Thursday morning to pray for the nation.
Eleacia and her friend, Kellie Karstens, 10, carried a small American flag which flapped in the stiff breeze as they joined the National Day of Prayer observance.
Approximately 250 people turned out on a windy spring morning to pray for local public officials, city workers and the perpetrators of recent acts of violence in Spokane.
“Prayer is our way of working with our Heavenly Father to make our world the way we want it to be,” said Margaret Walser.
The Spokane event was one of thousands planned across the country Thursday, the 45th consecutive year for a National Day of Prayer.
In a recent proclamation, President Clinton said, “Though our citizens come from every nation on Earth and observe an extraordinary variety of religious faiths and traditions, prayer remains at the heart of the American spirit.”
In a 1993 Gallup Poll, 89 percent of Americans reported that they pray. Of those, 58 percent said they pray daily.
Thursday, Christian pastors and singers joined local public officials in praying for the city of Spokane.
City Councilman Chris Anderson asked participants to pray for city officials.
“There is no shortage of challenges, hopes and even fears those of us in local government face every day,” he said.
Anderson described the anxiety felt by city employees after Monday’s bomb blast at City Hall.
“I would also ask for your prayers for the perpetrators of this and other acts of random, senseless violence,” he said.
Sea gulls swooped from the gray clouds and shrieked. Christians huddled in the chilly air on park benches and blankets.
Phil Harris, chairman of the county commissioners, told the crowd, “I am you, and you are I. We are all children of God.
“In my daily life, I don’t pray once a day; I pray many times a day.”
Over the noon hour, a number of office workers joined the event.
Lea Noble, a Spokane sales coordinator, learned of it from a Christian radio station. “I heard we are going to pray for our nation and our leaders,” she said. “I think we could all use a prayer.”
The Rev. John Sonneland of Harvest Christian Fellowship spoke on the book of Daniel. Daniel was an Old Testament figure who influenced the leaders of his nation through his prayers.
“We want government to look to people of God for answers,” Sonneland said. “If we want to turn this nation around, we need to have the character Daniel had.”
In his public prayer, Sonneland asked for the country to turn back to God and for fear to end.
“We want to see the violence totally stopped today, Father,” he prayed.