Hundreds gathered outside the Florida Historic Capitol on Thursday to celebrate the 70th annual National Day of Prayer.
Led by Hilltop House of Prayer Pastor Pam Olsen, the worshippers sang and prayed throughout the afternoon. Staff, meanwhile, passed out refreshments to fend off the Florida heat. It marked the 27th event under Olsen’s leadership.
“We felt like we needed to be out here,” Olsen said. “There’s so many things good and challenging that have happened in front of our Capitol.”
Indeed, the event has a revered history. The tradition, Olsen explained, dates to the First Continental Congress.
And in Florida, the Capitol steps throughout history have hosted numerous demonstrations and even legendary pastor Billy Graham.
The nationwide event, Olsen emphasized, is nonpartisan and lifts “both sides of the aisle” in prayer.
Moreover, people of all faiths are welcomed to attend.
“Prayer moves the Heart of God,” Olsen added.
The event featured several guests including Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and Republican Rep. Jason Shoaf of Port St. Joe.
Speaking to Florida Politics, Shoaf noted the difficult decisions lawmakers make regularly.
“Whether it is responding to a constituent’s need, voting for or against a bill, or challenging others to do what’s right, in everything we do, we must put our faith in God first. This National Day of Prayer was an opportunity to reflect on our blessings, ask for the Lord’s guidance and pray for our state and nation. We are, after all, one nation under God.”
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden issued a proclamation on Thursday recognizing the National Day of Prayer.
In the proclamation, Biden noted the importance of prayer in religion and its fruits of “strength, hope, and guidance.”
“Prayer has nourished countless souls and powered moral movements, including essential fights against racial injustice, child labor, and infringement on the rights of disabled Americans,” Biden said.
Similar events are ongoing at Capitols across the nation including Washington, D.C.