O.C. to celebrate National Day of Prayer

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For a list of some Prayer Day events in Orange County, look at the end of the story.


Sandy Muir says her prayer every day: “Please touch my husband with your healing hands.”

Her husband, sick with Hepatitis C, is on a waiting list for the liver transplant he needs. And so Thursday – the National Day of Prayer – will be just another day of silent prayers for Muir.

Yvonne Brown of Costa Mesa joins hands as she bows her head in prayer in front of Costa Mesa City Hall during last year's National Prayer Day.

“I’ll have prayers going through my head like I do every day,” said Muir, 52, of Orange.

Hundreds of people are expected to participate in much more public prayer services across Orange County on Thursday. Federal law sets aside the first Thursday in May as a Day of Prayer, when people “may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”

In San Clemente, for example, a fellowship of Orange County pastors will lead prayers for the nation, the needy and for the church itself. Inside Lamoreaux Justice Center in Orange, a chaplain will read the longest prayer in the Bible – all seven-plus minutes of Nehemiah, chapter 9.

“It’s a chance to unify believers and focus on what we all have in common, a concern for the nation,” said Chaplain Rick Johnson, who works in probation facilities for Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries.

The day has not been without its critics. The Freedom From Religion Foundation filed suit in 2008, challenging the Day of Prayer as unconstitutional. A district judge initially agreed – government, she wrote, should not encourage people to pray any more than it encourages them to fast during Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic.

A federal appeals court overturned that ruling, saying that the Freedom From Religion Foundation was not injured by the Day of Prayer and therefore couldn’t sue to stop it. The Foundation is considering filing new challenges in different court districts, co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said.

“President Obama has no business telling me to pray,” she said. “What if the president went around telling people not to pray?”

Congress created the National Day of Prayer in 1952, writing it into the U.S. Code alongside dozens of other official “Patriotic and National Observances.” In the code, but not on the calendar, it falls between National Aviation Day and National Defense Transportation Day.

The law requires the president to issue a proclamation for the National Day of Prayer every year. “I invite all citizens of our nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy,” President Obama said in his proclamation last year. “I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our nation.”

In Orange County, the Day of Prayer will bring together pastors and politicians in Yorba Linda. A prayer group will take to the steps of City Hall in Huntington Beach. And Sandy Muir will say her prayers for her husband – “maybe a little more so” because of the day, she said.

Thursday’s Prayer Day

10 a.m.; Interactive presentations from six different religious groups including Sikhs, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Baha’I; the Orange County Interfaith Network; at UC Irvine, Doheny Beach Conference Room A of the Student Center; the event is free while parking costs $4.

Noon to 1 p.m.; Pastor Robert Benoun will conduct a short Bible study about the importance of prayer for our country, leaders, community and school; at Calvary Chapel Pacific Coast 6400 Westminster Blvd., Westminster; light lunch served at 11:30 a.m. Information: 714-893-4141 or www.ccpc.org/NDP2012.

7 to 9 p.m.; Senior Pastor Mike McKay will lead the prayer; at Cypress Church at 6143 Ball Road. Information: 714-952-3001 or www.cypresschurch.net.

6 to 7:30 p.m.; Pastor Mike Harris will lead the prayer; on the steps of City Hall at the Civic Center at 2000 Main St., Huntington Beach. Information: 714-465-3000 or www.calvarybeachside.com.

6:30 to 7:40 p.m ; Kent Schlichtemeier, professor of education at Concordia University, Irvine, will be speaking about prayer. at St. Johns Lutheran Church, 154 S. Shaffer Ave., Orange. Information: 714-288-4432.

6 to 7:15 p.m. Pastor Mike Maiolo of Mission Viejo Christian Church will lead pastors and congregants from more than 20 other churches in a ceremony at the Mission Viejo Civic Center’s Kershaw Garden, 200 Civic Center. Information: 949-465-1940 or mvcchome.org.

12:05 to 12:30 p.m.; Chaplain Rick Johnson will lead the prayer; at Lamoreaux Justice Center, 331 The City Drive South, Orange; guests must use the paid public parking at Dawn Way and The City Drive. Information: 714-721-6688.

6:30 to 7:30 p.m.; Pastor Neil Travisano will lead the prayer; at Calvary Chapel Mission Viejo, at 24821 Chrisanta Drive, Mission Viejo. Information: 949-951-9678 or cmvchurch.com.

6 to 8 a.m.;  La Habra Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast; at 101 W. La Habra Blvd., La Habra; event sponsored by Kiwanis Club of the Highlander. Information: 562-697-7000.

Noon; the 61st Annual Observance of the National Day of Prayer; at the Community Center, 100 N. Calle Seville, San Clemente; sponsored by the Pastor’s Fellowship of South Orange County; Churches, nonprofit organizations and a United States Marine Corps representative will participate. Information: 949-492-7605 or pastorstogether.com.

Hour of Prayer, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Foothill Family Church, 19432 Bake Parkway, Foothill Ranch, Ca 92610. Information: 949-581-5070.

6 to 8:00 p.m.; Pastor Jim Domen will lead the prayer; at Amphitheatre Hurless Barton Park at 4601 Casa Loma Ave., Yorba Linda. A high school rock band will play from 4 to 5 p.m. Information: 951-354-8362 or CaliforniaFamily.org.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3777 or dirving@ocregister.com

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