Thousands of Arizonans are expected to gather today outside public buildings and in parks, stadiums and houses of worship for the 52 nd annual observance of the National Day of Prayer.
Held the first Thursday of May since President Ronald Reagan formalized the date in 1988, the event was established by Congress to "encourage Americans to pray for our nation, its people and its leaders."
"We have plenty of needs for prayer as a nation," said Howard Morrison, longtime coordinator of Gilbert’s prayer event.
He called the activities planned for noon to 12:50 p.m. today at the north side of Gilbert Municipal Center, 1025 S. Gilbert Road, a "great opportunity to express our dependence on God and ask him to direct our nation, state and town."
It is one of more than 20,000 Prayer Day events planned across the nation, coordinated by thousands of volunteers.
It should not be regarded as a Christian-only event, said Anne Taylor of the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Arizona and an officer with Arizona Interfaith Movement.
"We are praying to the same God in our own way."
Community events today:
• Ahwatukee Foothills: Sunrise prayer walk, 6 to 7:30 a.m. at Mountain Vista Park, 50 th Street north of Ray Road. (480) 893-2579.
• Scottsdale: Community rally with mayor, police and community leaders, prayer at 11:40 a.m. and talks at noon, north lawn of Scottsdale City Hall, 3939 N. Civic Center Plaza. (480) 367-8182. Community prayer service, 6 p.m., Scottsdale Bible Church, 7601 E. Shea Blvd. (480) 824-7200.
• Gilbert: Prayer event, noon to 12:50 p.m., Gilbert Municipal Center, 1025 S. Gilbert Road. (602) 819-1037.
• Mesa: Prayer gathering, noon, Mesa City Hall, 64 E. First St. (480) 464-3900.
• Apache Junction: Prayer rally at 4:30 p.m. for "Praise of the National Leaders, Troops and Families," Veterans Gazebo, University Drive and Idaho Road. (480) 982-2348.
• Tempe: Outdoor prayer worship gathering, 7 p.m., Grace Community Church, 1200 E. Southern Ave., bring lawn chairs and blankets. (480) 894-2201.
A complete list is at www.aznationaldayofprayer.com