Community prays for nation, city (video)
Jennifer Lee Preyss
May 3, 2012 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated May 4, 2012 at 12:04 a.m.
As a faithful believer in Jesus Christ, John Rush knew he needed to observe National Day of Prayer.
The nationwide prayer event, held annually the first Thursday in May, allows Christian believers such as Rush to publicly acknowledge their faith and pray for a patriotic return to a God-centered America.
This year's theme, "One Nation Under God," was observed by more than 2 million people in cities across the country.
And for about an hour Thursday afternoon, Victoria Christians of all denominations gathered around the DeLeon Plaza bandstand to put aside their religious differences and pray for a stronger nation.
"I came because I believe," Rush said, at the close of the event. "I think as many people that can get together as possible in the name of Jesus Christ, the better chance we have of returning this country to Jesus Christ."
Hosted by Strong Families of Victoria, the multi-denominational event featured Orthodox, Catholic and protestant attendees, with five pastors delivering special prayers for the United States government, the media, the church, education and families.
The Rev. Dimitri Cozby, of All Saints Orthodox Church, the only Orthodox church in the Crossroads, delivered the keynote address.
"Prayer, next to love, may be one of the most misused words. Prayer is life, it's a way of life, it's an attitude toward life," Dimitri said. "The highest expression of faith is pursuing his will, and beginning to allow Him to enter in our lives - that is accomplished by prayer."
Cozby emphasized that prayer goes beyond empty words and Santa Claus-like wishes offered casually to God's ear. Instead, he urged attendees to consider their words and actions together.
"Prayer is all of our words, all of our actions. Prayer is entrusting ourselves to God," he said. "Throughout history, the solution is always the same - to entrust our will, our lives, to the Creator."
After Cozby's address, area pastors prayed for state and local government leaders, education leaders, families and the Christian church as a whole.
"We tend to look to the government to fix our issues, but your word says that's not the hope of the world," said Renegade Church's Bard Letsinger, who was designated to pray for the church. "We've gotten away from the church ... for too many people, church is something we do on Sunday."
At the close of the prayers, concluded by a live performance of "God Bless America," attendees of the event lingered around the plaza to socialize with friends and reflect on the prayers.
"I came down here today because our country is in serious need of a miracle," said Susan Vadas, a Victoria legal secretary. "I feel our country is making some very bad decisions and going down the wrong path."
Vadas, who said she was impressed with the short prayers and sermons, believes the countrywide prayer services have the ability to make positive changes.
"God uses us as the tools for change and if we don't get involved, things won't get done," she said.
Rush was equally energized about the possibility of positive change that can come from events such as National Day of Prayer.
"We're all fishers of men, and disciples of Christ," he said. "We have to get back to that before anything else can happen."