Marla Moore wiped tears from her eyes as she prayed earnestly and with emotion in front of the Historic Henry County Courthouse in Martinsville at midday Thursday.
Moore, pastor of Vision Assembly of God in Collinsville, was in charge of the noon prayer gathering at the historic courthouse, one of several such gatherings in the area to observe National Day of Prayer.
This year’s theme is “Love One Another,” which comes from Jesus’ words in John 13:34, “Love one another. Just as I have loved you,” according to the National Day of Prayer's website.
Moore said she was praying “for the forgiveness of the churches not uniting together, ’cause how can we ask our country to unite when our churches are not united? And for just a great awakening, a great a spiritual awakening. God showed his power and his glory to Israel that they would know there is a God, and I think America has forgotten that there is a God in heaven. ... I think it breaks his heart, I do, that the churches won’t get together more.”
Moore said she feels doctrine has divided churches and that they should seek common ground.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins,” she said.
Moore also said she was praying for children in broken homes.
“We’re raising a generation of children that don’t have a mother or father in the home, and they’re just so rejected. That rejection causes them not to know what love really is. That breaks my heart, that the children don’t know that they are loved. The homes are so divided,” she said.
Prayer is very important to Moore, she said. “It’s very important to me that we learn to love one another and come together to see our nation turn back to God because it was birthed on godly principles. I just feel we’ve gotten so far from that. I feel like it breaks his heart.”
National Day of Prayer was established in 1952 as an annual event by a joint resolution of Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.
The Associated Press reported President Donald Trump chose National Day of Prayer to announce a new regulation to protect health care workers who object to procedures like abortion on moral grounds. President Trump also celebrated National Day of Prayer with victims of last weekend’s California synagogue shooting, in which one person was killed and three injured.
Moore said she feels National Day of Prayer helps, at least temporarily.
“I think it helps in the sense that for one day a year we come together for a common cause, but sad to say, what happens the rest of the year?” she said.
Several other members of Vision Assembly of God were with Moore at the noon prayer gathering/
One of them, Bette Galante of Martinsville said she was praying about prejudice and racial issues. The goal of her and her husband, Vincent, who manages a local apartment building, is to “tear down any racial prejudice. There is still some…. If we can do that all over in Martinsville and this area, it will make a real difference.”
She also was praying for the area’s “drug situation,” which she described as “very bad. She mentioned Martinsville’s high rate for opioids.
“I think the doctors have to be held accountable for that,” she said.
A state report recently released shows the city of Martinsville had the highest rate for “all fatal drug overdoses” and also the highest rate for “all fatal opioid overdoses” among the more than 130 localities in Virginia.
Another member of Vision Assembly of God, Betty Stone of Collinsville, walked with outstretched arms as she prayed, and addiction was on her mind, too.
She said she was praying local, state and national governments; the military; and her hope this community will come together against drug and alcohol addictions.
Also, she was praying “that every empty building [locally] would have a new business come in. It’s already started…. We’ve got several new businesses, but we need more,” she said.
As for national government, one of Stone’s prayers is “for God to give them [leaders] wisdom on what to do when world situations arise like in Venezuela. ... I know I don’t want to see us get militarily involved. We’ve got enough military involvement around the world without getting involved in Venezuela’s business.”
Pastor Moore’s husband, Roger Moore, said he was praying for “unity. That’s the whole focus of our prayer, just unity for everybody to come together and get along. It seems like there’s a whole lot of trouble in the world, everybody bickering about different things. They need more unity amongst everybody.”
The YMCA on Starling Avenue in Martinsville also one of the sites of the noon prayer gatherings. Cleo Preston was in charge of that event. She is a member of the Martinsville-Henry County National Day of Prayer Committee and is director of Christian education at Pilgrim Baptist Church in Martinsville.
The principal event for the local observance of National Day of Prayer was a program at 6 p.m. Thursday at New College Institute Baldwin Building. Dozens of local churches were involved, according to the program.
As of about 12:45 p.m. Thursday, Preston said that “we’ve had about 10 to come through [the YMCA]. ... If they choose to pray with me, I just ask them to pray with me that God will surround this country with love and give us peace and harmony and unity.”
Valerie Swanson and her mother, Catherine Foreman, both of Martinsville, were two of the people who prayed with Preston.
Swanson said she was praying for people “to show more love to each other."
Said Foreman: “Just love one another, that’s all I know, and give your heart to God, and everything else will fall in place.”