There was no overflowing room, nor dozens of people crowded around tables together. The flavorful, crispy bacon and other savory breakfast items were also missing.
But that’s not what the National Day of Prayer is really about, is it?
It was mostly about Thanksgiving for those who gathered in spirit to pray together.
The Nixa Ministerial Alliance turned to the internet to hold its annual observance of the National Day of Prayer May 7. Pastors, dignitaries and guest speakers used the Zoom teleconferencing platform and Facebook Live to host a Christian prayer service.
Al Michel, a well-recognized Nixa community leader and a proud veteran of the U.S. Navy, read several Bible verses from the New Testament that were focused on the practice of giving thanks.
“These words of thanksgiving really jumped out to me. We pray for a lot of things and we give thanks for a lot of things, for clothing, for shelter, for food and the things of survival in our lives,” Michel said. “But do we give thanks for things in our lives that aren’t so pleasant?”
Even in times of inconvenience, of difficult circumstances and frustrations, Michel said he tries to find something to be glad about.
“I find in my life now that I look for opportunities to be thankful, and they’re everywhere, we just have to be aware of it,” Michel said.
Michel encouraged viewers to look for opportunities to be thankful regardless of their circumstance.
“It’s easy to be unhappy, to be angry or something, but it’s also easy if you think about it and work at it to be thankful for something,” Michel said. “What I find in my life is that when I find opportunities to be thankful, it takes away the negative.”
Christian County Sheriff Brad Cole shared that he has encountered some difficult circumstances on the job as of late.
“The last several weeks have been challenging for us in the world of law enforcement,” Cole said.
Like many Christian County residents, Cole has been frustrated the public health orders have prevented him from attending church services or gatherings.
“I find it very challenging for me in my faith, not being able to join that people that I join on Sundays and any other time of worship,” Cole said. “That’s one of the things that I’m looking forward to getting back to on a normal and regular basis.”
Cole thanked the ministerial alliance and the citizens of Christian County for praying for first responders throughout the pandemic. Like Michel, he encouraged people to be grateful, and related that gratitude to freedom.
“America is a nation full of good fortune with so much to be grateful for, but we’re not spared from suffering. In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom,” Cole said. “The commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time. On this National Day of Prayer and remembrance, we ask almighty God to watch over our nation and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come.”
Blake Richter, a music teacher at Inman Intermediate School, shared some of the challenges that his students deal with on a daily basis.
“Hateful words, unimaginable situations, rough home lives, not enough food to eat, a lack of positive role models, and the list goes on,” Richter said.
Richter shared that he and his wife, who is also a teacher, have a practice of praying for their students by name each day.
“We want them to be safe physically, mentally and spiritually. We work hard to build strong relationships with our students so we know exactly what to pray for in their lives, sometimes without them ever knowing it,” Richter said. “It would be physically impossible to ensure the wellbeing of our students every day for 24 hours a day, that’s where prayer comes in.”
Nixa High School senior Karmyn Bartels shared her thoughts on prayer from a teenager’s perspective.
“My senior year is unlike any other senior year, it’s just so weird, but when you’re going through those situations that are just not normals, not the way you expected them to go, just have peace that God has a direction for you and He’s leading you through the storm,” Bartels said.
Bartels shared that the three principals of peace, purpose and power guide her life and her decision making.
“I asked God to show me where he wants me to go and what he wants me to do,” Bartels said.
Pastor Jarod Koenig of Redeemer Lutheran Church offered a prayer of thanksgiving and perhaps a request for some reminders from God.
“We ask today that we would remember your generosity to us, and that you would constantly do your will among us, even and especially during these challenging times,” Koenig said. “Heavenly father, protect us, not only from the affects of the coronavirus, but also from all forms of violence and discord, all sorts of confusion, from pride or arrogance and from every evil course of action. We ask that we who come from many different walks of life, may become a united people in our work and endeavors to serve one another and serve you as our God.”