Prayers were offered for the military, clergy, youth, law enforcement, business and marriages at the 20th annual Stanislaus County Day of Prayer Breakfast on Thursday.
"Mother Teresa often said we need to take time to pray," said the Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor at St. Joseph's Catholic Church and one of six speakers at the event in downtown Modesto. "Let's return prayer to the center of our lives."
Retired Sgt. Maj. Chris Steackman of the California National Guard said service men and women experience constant stress, especially those in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"They need to receive mail from home; mail call is the highlight of their day," he said. "Most of all, they need our prayers on a daily basis."
Adam Lema, youth pastor at Mill Creek Church in Modesto, spoke of the "lost and broken" youth in our communities who would benefit from powerful prayer along with actions.
"Hollow prayer is not acceptable," he said.
The Rev. Wayne Bridegroom of Central Baptist Church brought up the large number of foreclosures in the area and asked God to "provide this American dream, homeownership," to people struggling to pay their mortgages. He said businesses can help, giving an example of his Latino neighbor whose bank rewrote the family's mortgage for a much smaller amount.
Charlie Crane, Community Hospice chaplain and volunteer Modesto Police Department chaplain, said budget cuts are hurting law enforcement and forcing open positions to remain unfilled.
"We need to pray -- with the high rise of crime, we need more officers," he said. "Our judicial system is also facing some issues. Judges need wisdom and we need to pray for that."
Doris Reis, event chairwoman, ended the morning by suggesting that churches adopt law enforcement officers, providing extras they may need, such as money, prayers and baby-sitting.
"We need to get out of our pews and out in the streets," she said.
The Modesto event was one of several in the area to mark the National Day of Prayer. In Turlock at the Mayor's Prayer Breakfast, about 650 people heard nationally known Christian youth expert Josh McDowell speak.
"He centered on how important a relationship is between a son and a father, and how some people don't realize the impact they have on their children," said Bill Gibbs, event chairman.
McDowell related stories of the impact of children who had never heard "I love you" from a parent, and he pointed out that outward appearances are judged based on our values, beliefs and relationships. Various government officials offered prayers for leaders locally and around the world.
Later in the day, Turlock and Oakdale pastors led noontime prayer services, Livingston held an evening Interfaith Council prayer service and Ripon held an evening service.
Bee staff writer Sue Nowicki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2012.