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Bowed heads, lifted prayers

Locals gather for National Day of Prayer

Caryn Knous and Dawn Knoop attend the National Day of Prayer event on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn during their lunchbreak Thursday afternoon.
Caryn Knous and Dawn Knoop attend the National Day of Prayer event on the Grundy County Courthouse lawn during their lunchbreak Thursday afternoon.

Locals from all walks of life stopped by the Grundy County Courthouse lawn Thursday afternoon to pause together in prayer.

As schoolchildren from Immaculate Conception School sat cross-legged on the grass, senior citizens brought along lawn chairs and sat under a leafy canopy to take part in the Morris Ministerial Association's National Day of Prayer event.

Steven Heilmann, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church and president of the association, said the gathering was in step with thousands of other gatherings held Thursday across the country.

"We're just part of a very large event," he said.

Heilmann said six churches of the larger association made up the event, which has been an annual tradition in Morris. This year's verse was Psalm 33:21 — "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

Steve Cook, pastor at Living Water Church of the Nazarene, said the purpose of the day is to pray as a country for what he called the seven pillars of power in the country — institutions like government, the military, education systems and businesses.

As local clergy prayed for those institutions on the steps of the courthouse, Cook said the event also takes on an international dimension. 

"I think it's growing (to include) not only our country, but we realize the whole world is in trouble and needs prayer," he said.

Heilmann said the event's leaders hope the event will bring a revival of Christian faith, and also that the people's prayers come to fruition.

"We hope we get what we pray for," he said. "We hope that God listens and our prayers move his heart in a way we haven't seen so far."

"We also hope it'll call people to prayer," Cook added.

Two women in the crowd stopped by on their lunch break from working in a busy OB/GYN office. Both dressed in bright-pink scrubs, Dawn Knoop and Caryn Knous said they were glad they had the chance to stop by.

"I've wanted to come for a long time," Knous said, adding that usually it's difficult to leave work when busy with responsibilities.

Both appreciated the event and having the chance to pray for the country's leaders and institutions.

"We just need to pray for everyone," Knoop said.

Knous agreed.

"Our country really needs prayer," she said.

The two said they were leaving the event energized and plan to continue the spiritual practice.

"This is pretty awesome," Knoop said. "I totally feel pumped up."

Husband-and-wife duo Orin and Ardith Cooper are regulars at the event each year. Both said they enjoyed it.

"It was beautiful, just beautiful," Ardith said.

"It'd be great if we could do this every day," Orin said.

Between the speakers and seeing younger people at the event, the two said they liked being able to take part in praying for the country. Ardith said she was thankful for the opportunity.

"I just wanted to thank all the pastors for working so hard to bring this together every year," she said. "Their words were from the Lord."

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