Prayers poured down on Ellis County along with the rain during the 68th National Day of Prayer Thursday at the Farley Street Baptist Church in Waxahachie.

The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952 when President Harry Truman signed a bill that set aside the first Thursday of May for meditation and prayer. While thousands gathered together across the country to observe the day of prayer, over 100 people filled the Farley Street Baptist Church to pray for the nation’s government, military and police, media, businesses, education, churches and families.

The theme for this year’s prayer was “Love One Another” in accordance with Christ’s word in John 13:34 where he instructs his disciples to love one another as He has loved them.

“People all across our nation are praying,” pastor Richard Smith remarked. “Our governor, our state leaders – many of them have gathered today as well. We’re all here in one heart to pray for our nation.”

The program began with a performance by the Silver Serenaders, an interdenominational senior choir that’s headquartered out in Dallas.

“I always enjoy hearing the Silver Serenaders,” Ellis County Judge Todd Little remarked. “My own grandmother was a member of the Silver Serenaders for many years.”

After Smith welcomed attendants to their program, Little gave the first prayer for the country’s government, issuing a proclamation in support of the national day of prayer.

“Since 1849, we have pursued the power of prayer to be the forefront of the pursuit for civic and legislative justice,” Little expressed. “Ellis County has experienced times of prosperity and blessing, as well as depression and strife. In those times, we never strayed from the hope, peace and sanctity of prayer, but instead, we held firmly then as we do even stronger today.”

The prayers continued with the other guest speakers, including retired Navy Lt. Commander Jim Cooper, First Baptist Church pastor Paul Gauntt, Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd, retired Waxahachie ISD educator Max Simpson and First Look CEO Donna Young.

One of the new speakers for this year’s day of prayer was pastor Demetrius McClendon, who leads One Church in Midlothian. McClendon expressed that as the cornerstone of the community, the church is in a crucial position to embody God’s love and grace.

It’s a mission that some believers, he said, need to be better at committing to.

“As a body of believers, we’ve got to figure out how to love people that don’t look like us, that didn’t vote like us, and don’t live like us,” McClendon expressed. “It’s still our task to love them. We’ve got to work that much harder not to allow our cultural differences or denominational decals to prevent us from acting as one.”

McClendon said that the message comes down to speaking God’s truth. And God’s truth, he says, is love.

“We have to be willing to denounce ourselves, push down our flesh to receive what the spirit of the lord is trying to reveal to us,” McClendon stated. “That makes us have to rethink all of our present stances – rethink all of our present prejudices, no matter what they are. God’s truth is not relegated according to what your grandfather taught you, or according to what your denomination taught you.”

The day of prayer ended with a closing performance by the Serenaders and a prayer for the nation written by National Day of Prayer chairman Dr. Ronnie Floyd, where he asks that God bless the nation and the people who live in it.

“The more we have of God, the more love we’ll have for each other in our country,” Smith stated. “That’s what we want to see happen this year. All churches, all communities – everybody, coming together, loving each other.”