Lt. Col. Kevin Jarrard’s words to God often come as a cry for help.
“It has been out of sheer desperation that I am a man of prayer,” said Jarrard, a recipient of the Bronze Star for his service with the U.S. Marine Corps in Iraq, a teacher of cadets at Riverside Military Academy and a father.
Jarrard gave the keynote address Thursday morning at a National Day of Prayer observance hosted in Gainesville by The Fishermen, a local group of Christian businessmen.
The group held another observance on the downtown square at lunch.
The national observance has been held each year on the first Thursday in May, created in 1952 by a resolution in Congress, but it dates back to George Washington’s presidency.
Thursday’s lunchtime observance, the fourth the Fisherman have held on the square, included for the first time a performance of country-western-style gospel from the trio Sabbath Sound.
Both events connected Christianity and patriotism and were not without political messages.
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord,” said Brad Farrow, a member of the group, reading from the book of Psalms at the morning event.
Farrow, in a prayer, asked God for victory over terrorists and extremists. Later in the day, Ann Gainey, who prayed on behalf of families, thanked God that Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation outlawing abortions that occur 20 weeks after conception.
And some of the messages centered on the need to ask for forgiveness.
In his morning message, Jarrard called on the nation’s repentance for sins he said may have been individual but affected the country as a whole. He specifically mentioned abortion, infidelity and homosexuality, calling the latter a “sexual aberration not just tolerated but celebrated in our land.”
Farrow, too, called for the nation’s repentance, praying “that Americans might realize truth.”
During the lunch event, Hall County Sheriff Steve Cronic prayed for government leaders.
“We pray that none would rest on their own understanding and that all would seek to receive from you, oh Lord, wisdom and discernment so that all would make the right decisions in everything that they do each day,” Cronic said.
Al Gainey, a local radio host, in his prayer, asked God to direct the media.
“Give the media a renewed commitment to genuine truth rather than the fallacy that all ideas, concepts and philosophies are equally true...” Gainey prayed. “Help us to remember, Father, the difference between journalism and advocating for a biased cause.”
His wife, Ann Gainey, prayed that God bind families with “heavenly Velcro.”
“We are so easily led astray by an ungodly culture,” she said. “We know that unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. So challenge us to build our homes on a solid foundation that will not collapse when Satan throws his fiery darts.”
Other prayers were lifted up for educators, churches, business leaders and the military.
“There’s a lot of information our students are exposed to these days and very little truth. Father, we ask you to help them to discern both,” prayed Ken Gossage, headmaster of Heritage Christian Academy in Flowery Branch.