BANGOR, Maine — Clad in a T-shirt with Kings Riders Motorcycle Ministries emblazoned on the back, Troy Pearl bowed his head Saturday morning and prayed for the nation, its leaders and its people.
Pearl was one of about 70 people who attended an hourlong prayer meeting at Cascade Park.
“I don’t believe we should keep God in the closet,” Pearl said after the event. “We need to bring God out into the public square.”
Rep. Stacey K. Guerin, R-Glenburn, and Rep. David Johnson, R-Eddington, organized the event after Gov. Paul LePage supported a call by a fellow governor for a national day of prayer and fasting by issuing a proclamation. LePage signed it on June 6, joining Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who presided over a national event at Reliant Arena in Houston.
LePage did not attend the Bangor event or similar events in other parts of the state. The governor also was not going to Texas for Perry’s event. In his weekly radio address, the governor did ask Mainers to “pause for a moment to pray for our nation.”
“On August 6, I encourage us also to all pray for our troops who tirelessly fight in the defense of our country,” he said. “Family and our freedoms should never be taken for granted. We are a nation that has hit a troubling era, and praying for the strength to do what is right for our people is the right thing to do.”
Perry’s event drew about 30,000 people and was broadcast on cable Christian television channels and the Internet, according to The Associated Press.
“Father, our heart breaks for America,” Perry said in 12 minutes of remarks that included prayer and Bible passages — but no direct mention of politics or his presidential plans. “We see discord at home. We see fear in the marketplace. We see anger in the halls of government and, as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us.”
Public officials seeking guidance from God is not a new idea, Pastor Matt Ward of Charleston Pentecostal Church said at Cascade Park in Bangor just before he led the group in prayer. There are stories in the Old Testament of leaders in Jerusalem publicly fasting and praying for guidance, he said.
“We come with the mentality and the conviction that when people pray, the nation changes,” Ward told the group. “We’ve come with hope in our hearts that what is wrong can be made right.
“Our God can take us through difficult times,” he continued. “He’s a God that is unchanging, even if the world and the nation is changing. We want to hear in our hearts God say, ‘I’ve got this.’”
At the end of the program, Johnson invited people to join lawmakers at 8 a.m. Tuesdays in the Cabinet room across from the governor’s office. The Prayer Caucus is interfaith and nonpartisan, he said.
“God has sent a lot of people to Augusta who believe that he can be part of the picture,” Guerin said at the end of the hour. “We don’t pray for specific bills; we are praying for wisdom.”
Johnson said he would like to see the day of prayer and fasting become an annual event in Maine similar to the annual observance of a National Day of Prayer. That event is held each May.
Enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1952, the National Day of Prayer was observed earlier this year by Maine’s first lady, Ann LePage, who led a small gathering on the steps of the State House, according to previously published reports.
To view the proclamation of the national day of prayer and fasting that LePage signed, click here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.