05/02/14 — Residents gather for National Day of Prayer

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Residents gather for National Day of Prayer

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on May 2, 2014 1:46 PM

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Ralph Stroud lays his head against his 8-year-old son, Evan, during the opening of the National Day of Prayer Thursday evening at the Goldsboro Family Y.

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The Hopkins family -- Daniel, Shannon and Addison -- stands during the singing of the national anthem Thursday evening during the National Day of Prayer service at the Goldsboro Family Y. This was the first year the Hopkins family attending the service together.

Warriors of Christ is what Lt. Col. Dwayne W. Keener called those attending the fourth annual National Day of Prayer at the Family Y Thursday night.

Keener, a chaplain at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, was the featured speaker for this year's event.

He encouraged all in attendance to put on their full armor of God.

"We must stand strong and be disciplined in our faith," he said. "We must pray without ceasing, realizing that God is with us always and he will never leave us when we pray for each other."

Keener told of being a child saying his prayers at night. At the end of his prayer, he'd say, "Amen."

He said it was like hanging up a phone and ending the conversation. Only God is always with us through prayer.

Keener praised the young people who attended, saying many youths are losing focus on God today.

Being a career military man, the chaplain likened the fight against evil to a military operation. He named it Operation Engage Faith.

Just as the military has its instruments of power, Christians have their instrument of power -- the power of prayer.

"We must be careful how we use that instrument of power, though," Keener said. "We must use it for God's purpose and not our own. We must be Christian prayer warriors. Prayer is powerful.

"Are you ready to engage in battle?" he asked. "Put on your armor and pray."

Also during the event, Ravi Zacharias, founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, gave the national message via film.

He said he doesn't know of any time in this nation when it's been more important to get down on our knees to God.

This year's National Day of Prayer combined the youth and adult parts that had been held separately in past years.

Regan Jackson, a senior at Spring Creek High School, gave a prayer for Wayne County's young people. Olivia de Araujo and Jordan Portela sang a song especially for the youths who were there.

One of the youths attending the National Day of Prayer was 16-year-old Cassie Linton, who went with her family.

"I just wanted to come with my family and experience this," she said. "I think it was amazing. Everyone should come to it. The special prayer and song for the youths was really good."

Ralph Stroud and his wife, Tiffany, and sons, Evan, Mitchell and Trey, also attended.

"We came because we believe in this event," he said. "We have a lot of contacts that were here tonight from our church and ties in all directions. A big part of our life was here tonight, and we wanted to be a part of it.

"He thought it was great that people prayed for each segment of society, family, schools, government, military, all those areas that affect this community.

"I think it's much needed, and once a year may not be enough," Stroud said. "I think it's inspiring to see so many people here coming together for an event like this. It was everyone together, all denominations, all believers."

"This was probably the most exciting National Day of Prayer that we've had," said task force member Pat Keim. "I thought the presence of the Lord was very obvious. His presence filled this place, the speakers, the people attending, everybody. The presence of the Lord was just so evident."

She said it was a blessing to those attending.

"We'll look to see what the Lord does next year," she said.