raising arms - ‘We ask you to strengthen us … as followers of the way’

Attendees raise their arms in praise. The theme for the day was “Exalt the Lord Who Has Established Us.”

Bishop joins other religious leaders for National Day of Prayer

By Tom Maguire | Associate editor

He bicycled 16 miles before arriving at the ceremony, so he believes in exercise. He also believes in prayer.

Wearing his chartreuse biking jacket and leaning back on his bike, born-again Christian Bryan Rocine, of DeWitt, was among the more than 100 attendees of the National Day of Prayer Program on May 5 at the Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse.  

“I came because I love our city, and I would like to see God have his way in our city,” said Rocine, of Living Word Church near Carrier Circle. “And it was great to join hearts with all these different men and women who led us in prayer. And to see a spirit of prayer in the center of our city, in front of an important building, is an awesome experience.”

The theme for the National Day of Prayer was “Exalt the Lord Who Has Established Us,” based on Colossians 2:6-7. Bishop Douglas J. Lucia and other religious leaders each said a prayer for the attendees around Columbus Circle.

Bishop Lucia cited Acts 17:28 — which says, “For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’” — and Ps 57:8-12, which says, “My heart is steadfast, God, my heart is steadfast. … Awake, my soul; awake, lyre and harp! I will wake the dawn. … Your mercy towers to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Exalt yourself over the heavens, God; may your glory appear above all the earth.”

The Bishop prayed that “we will continue to exalt you with all that we say and do. … Help our hands to be your hands. Help our hearts to be as one heart with your heart. … Help us to … tear down walls that seem to be coming up between people. Continue to help us in a particular way, O God, to be your people who walk in your way. Continue to bless us so that we can be one nation under God. … We ask you to strengthen us, to strengthen us as followers of the way.”

Bishop prays 2 - ‘We ask you to strengthen us … as followers of the way’

Bishop Douglas J. Lucia speaks May 5 at the National Day of Prayer ceremony at the
Onondaga County Courthouse in Syracuse. (Sun photos | Tom Maguire)

Pastor Andrew Pecheny of First Ukrainian Pentecostal Church, Camillus, said it had been 71 days since war broke out in Ukraine. For many Ukrainians, he said, these have been the longest days of their lives. “Many lost homes,” he said, “many lost loved ones, and many laid down their life. The situation in Ukraine is dire, and they need our prayers. … 

“We still have family … there. It’s hard to hear about all they’re going through. But it’s also comforting to see so many people come together and help our families and the people in Ukraine. Since the war began, we have felt the massive support of the community, and we are so grateful for that. …

“Our church has also been meeting every evening since the war started to pray for Ukraine. The Bible says that faith and war go together, and even in this situation God is in control.”

Pastor Pecheny prayed for the soldiers, and he prayed that parents would have “courage in the face of this horror.” He prayed for the orphans and orphanages filled with children and caretakers “who are caught in the middle of crossfire. … Give the Ukrainians the strength to cling to the truth no matter what today might bring.”

“If we unite to pray, God will find a way” was the motto repeated by the Rev. Scott Hallman, VP, Christians for Syracuse, and Pastor, Westside Community Chapel, Syracuse. 

Also included in the ceremony was a proclamation naming May 5 as the National Day of Prayer in Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse.  

Bryan with bike 2 - ‘We ask you to strengthen us … as followers of the way’

Bicyclist Bryan Rocine says his church, Living Word Church near Carrier Circle, has been praying for the City of Syracuse.

Attuned to Scripture

And speakers cited Scripture: 

Phil 4:4, which says: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” 

Mt 4:16: “The people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen.”

Eph 5:14: “Therefore, it says: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.’”

Bicyclist Rocine, who figured he would total about 20 or 22 miles riding his bike that day, is familiar with 1 Tim 4:8: “For, while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and for the future.”

“We’ve been having prayer together as a church every Sunday night,” Rocine said. “It’s been very well attended and very enthusiastic like this …, just been praying for our city, that God would have a breakthrough in the hearts of our city. … Clearly, our city is poor, it’s broken, it’s violent, it needs direction, it’s lost. I don’t mean everybody, but I mean so many people in our city. We know our center city is really hurting. And we are praying for it.”


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