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FINDLAY -- As words from the Gospel of Matthew streamed through loudspeakers, Barb Deerwester and Renee Leguire prepared to take their turn Wednesday in a 90-hour Bible reading and prayer marathon that began Sunday and ends today, the National Day of Prayer.
The two Findlay event organizers were enthusiastic about the spiritual impact of having the entire Bible read aloud at Dorney Plaza while people prayed 24/7, the third consecutive year for the marathon, as police, government officials, and others walked by.
"It's become a really powerful event," Ms. Deerwester said. "If you want change, then get in prayer with the Lord. We can change things when we're on our knees before God."
"God's Word does not return void," Ms. Leguire added.
More than 100 people from more than 15 Findlay-area churches took turns filling one-hour slots in the round-the-clock Bible reading and prayer session, Ms. Leguire said. They prayed for seven "mountains of power" in the United States: government, military, media, business, education, church, and family.
On Wednesday morning, the Rev. Matt Hayden of Central Church of Christ was reading Matthew's Gospel into the microphone, his amplified words flowing across the small, brick-paved downtown park tucked between the Municipal Building and the Hancock County Courthouse.
The Findlay observance will conclude with a National Day of Prayer Rally at 7 p.m. today in the Church of the Living God, 701 N. Main St.
"The cool part is there's more than 25 churches participating in [tonight's] rally," Ms. Deerwester said. "It's just a blessing to see denominational walls broken down. It's about the unity of people humbling themselves before our God and lifting our country and those who serve it in prayer."
Other area National Day of Prayer events include the 23rd annual Northwest Ohio Prayer Breakfast at 7 a.m. at the Premier Complex on Heatherdowns Boulevard and a "One Nation Under God" multifaith gathering sponsored by the Close Park Area Clergy outside El Camino Real restaurant on West Sylvania Avenue at 10:30 a.m.
President Obama on Tuesday issued a proclamation declaring today the National Day of Prayer, saying, "Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, providing not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world."
In his proclamation, the President invited all citizens "to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy" and to "ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a nation."
The National Day of Prayer can be traced to 1775, when the Continental Congress issued a proclamation setting aside a day for prayer. In 1952, Congress established an annual day of prayer, and in 1988 the law was amended to designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.
In Dorney Plaza, the more than 3 1/2 days of Bible readings began with Genesis and will continue through the 22nd chapter of Revelation.
If the entire Bible is read aloud before the marathon ends, volunteers will be asked to read their favorite Bible chapters, Ms. Leguire said.
Ms. Deerwester said Christians aren't immune from struggles but have the assurance that "Jesus will go through them with us."
She said she relied on that promise when her home flooded in February, 2011, then burned down a week later. Two weeks after that, her beloved 13-year-old Labrador retriever died.
"We were homeless, but we never went without a meal, we never went without anything," Ms. Deerwester said. "God was good through all of it."
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