In the sweltering summer heat, thousands of Christians gathered near the Washington Monument on Saturday to pray for a “broken” America.
Nick Hall, a young evangelical Christian and leader of the Pulse ministry, organized the event to encourage young Christians to unite in prayer for the problems in the world and then take action, the Religion News Service reports.
“We believe #JesusChangesEverything,” the organizers said. The hashtag became a trending topic on Twitter during the event. “We believe there’s power in coming together. Jesus promised whenever two or more come together in His name, He is present. It’s emboldening to join with others, to know we’re not alone, to realize we can do more together than apart.”
“God, we don’t need to hear from some man or some woman,” Hall said in an opening prayer on Saturday morning. “God we don’t need to hear from some band. We need to hear from heaven today. That’s why we’ve come.”
Speakers at the event avoided talking too much about politics. Instead, they focused on praying for an end to violence and suffering, and restored protections for the vulnerable all across the world.
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Popular evangelical Christian author and blogger Ann Voskamp spoke and prayed that Americans would be moved to action to protect the people who are neglected and abused in the world today.
“We, the people of the cross repent of 1.2 million children who will be trafficked around the globe this year while we care more about traffic reports, repent of the 3.1 [million] children under 5 who will die this year because of starvation while we spend $60 billion dollars this year trying to lose weight,” Voskamp prayed. “We will not be the people who turn a blind eye to injustice.”
Others prayed for an end to the racial tension and the violence resulting from it in the U.S.
“Jesus can heal our nation,” said Ronnie Floyd, a former Southern Baptist Convention president. “Jesus can heal relationships. America is like a broken bone that needs to be put back into its correct place in order to experience healing.”
The prayer event, Together 2016, was described as Evangelical Christian, but it also was promoted among Catholics, including by Pope Francis. The prayer event featured some of the top names in Evangelical Christian circles, including Josh McDowell, Francis Chan and Samuel Rodriguez, and Christian artists Lecrae, Hillsong, Casting Crowns and Michael W. Smith.
The event was cut short because of unbearable heat and a lack of shade on the Mall. According to The Washington Post, so many people experienced heat-related health problems that emergency medical technicians were overwhelmed. The event was scheduled to run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., but organizers concluded it at 4 p.m., the report states.
Here’s more from the newspaper:
Anjelica and Joseph Tynes, an African-American couple who attended the event on Saturday, said they arrived hoping to hear a message of racial reconciliation aimed at evangelicals. Anjelica said she wondered beforehand if a one-time event could really make a difference, but when she saw the crowd on the Mall, she changed her mind. In fact, she thought the day of prayer would do more for racial healing than the presidential election could.
“If Trump’s in office, we’re responsible to pray for Trump,” she said. “If Hillary’s in office, we’re responsible to pray for Hillary.”
The Tyneses, like many others on the Mall, said they would not discuss whom they’re voting for, preferring instead to devote the day to prayer. There wasn’t a political sign or shirt in sight.
Reports about the event do not mention abortion, but many of the speakers and artists are known as vocal pro-life advocates. Evangelical Protestant Christians also are strongly pro-life, according to Pew polling. So the victims of abortion also likely were on many of the rally-goers’ hearts and minds as they prayed.
Abortion destroys the lives of approximately 1.1 million unborn babies every year in the U.S. and can leave physical and emotional scars on their moms and dads for decades. Both the born and unborn victims of abortion have been the focus of many Christian prayer events for decades.