PIQUA — Religious freedom and the power of prayer were celebrated Thursday as community members came together to pray publicly for church and government leaders, as well as for police officers, firefighters, and EMS.
The Piqua Association of Churches hosted their annual “Prayer at the Fountion” event for National Day of Prayer at the fountain outside of the municipal building. Paul Green, president of the Piqua Association of Churches, welcomed the community members, church and city leaders, and first responders in attendance.
“This is near and dear to my heart,” Mayor Kazy Hinds said. Hinds then read a quote from Thomas Jefferson that emphasized the importance of religious freedom within a society, saying, “Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.”
Hinds then gave thanks for the church members and pastors at the event, saying “We pray for each one of our religious leaders.”
Before leading the prayer, pastor Gary Wagner of Piqua Penecostal Church spoke on the importance of National Day of Prayer itself.
“National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our American heritage,” Wagner said.
Wagner stated that 34 of the United States’ 44 presidents have signed proclamations for the National Day of Prayer and that there have been approximately 1,419 state and federal calls for National Day of Prayer since 1775. Wagner said that prayer “is the bedrock of America’s greatness.”
He then spoke about the country’s founding fathers, reading the John Adams quote, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Wagner contemplated the founding fathers when they wrote the Constitution, saying, “I have no doubt that the Lord was with them.”
Wagner continued to expand on the John Adams’ quote, explaining that Americans need to be moral people for the Constitution to work.
“America is at a moral crossroads,” Wagner said. He added that holding a National Day of Prayer is “more important now than ever” as it promotes a “God-consciousness.”
Wagner then spoke on the importance of praying for the local, state, and federal governments and their leaders. About the election of the new president, he said, “He or she will need our prayers because these are defining times.”
Wagner then took the focus to local concerns, particularly looking at the heroin epidemic. He honored first responders, thanking the Piqua Police Department and Piqua Fire Department.
“They have saved several lives, some of which (are) in my own family,” Wagner said. He stated that there is no denying the presence of the heroin epidemic, reflecting that he has seen the effects of heroin addiction on families throughout his career as a pastor.
“Yet I know and you know … that there is hope in Jesus Christ,” Wagner said.
Wagner also faced a “destructive addiction” in his past, but he spoke about how he followed Jesus’ example in the Gospel and overcame his addiction. “I found that by following that same pattern, I could conquer any addiction,” he said.
Wagner added later, “It’s been 30 years now, and I’m still clean as I could be … I give God all the glory.”
Wagner then spoke on the value of prayer itself. “Everything starts with prayer,” he said. “Prayer can do anything God can do … I believe that if we pray earnestly to God, he will hear our prayers also.”
Wagner urged those in attendance to believe in God and in God’s divine intervention. By coming out to pray as a commmunity and a city, Wagner said, “God saw we were serious.”
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall