On the heels of yesterday’s National Day of Prayer and Remembrance, Americans in all 50 states are today gearing up to participate in America Prays, an event billed as “the largest single prayer vigil in the country since the terrorist attacks.”

Led by “Prayer of Jabez” author Bruce Wilkinson, the vigil will feature Franklin Graham, son of Rev. Billy Graham and president of Christian international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse, Focus on the Family’s James Dobson, author Max Lucado and John Maxwell, best-selling author and founder of the Atlanta, Ga.-based organization hosting the event, Injoy.

“It is natural for grieving people to cry out to God in prayer in times of national tragedy. We hope this time of prayer will unite our communities and provide comfort,” said Maxwell. “As an outreach to our communities in this time of uncertainty, we want to team up with every possible church across our country for a much-needed event. …”

If head counts are any indication, the need appears both great and increasing as the time inches closer to the start of the event.

When first announced, event organizers expected some 115,000 participants from 1,000 churches. In just two days, that number has swelled substantially.

Connecting participants by satellite, Injoy now expects 155,000 people in North America from various denominations and 1,500 churches to tune in for one-and-a-half hours of “prayer, support, hope and direction.”

A free event to churches, congregations will be linked to the vigil using DishNetwork satellite dishes at 3:00 p.m. Central/Pacific, and 4:00 p.m. Eastern/Mountain. For those interested in joining the vigil, Injoy will e-mail the three closest downlink locations to access the event.

An offering will also be taken at participating churches, according to Injoy. The goal is to raise $1 million to support ongoing emergency aid by churches working at ground zero, helping to repair the damage and soothe the suffering in New York and Washington, D.C.

Following America Prays, the National Association of Evangelicals is urging its 51 member denominations and 43,000 churches to ready for a National Day of Mourning and Prayer on Sunday.

Urging believers to speak as “One nation under God,” NAE has published “a prayer by the nation, for the nation,” which it recommends parishioners read in unison during their hours of worship. The prayer reads in part:

    The God in Whom we trust, we lift up one voice to You across the land, asking in an hour of unprecedented sorrow: Receive us in our humility and brokenness before You. Strengthen those whose grieving hearts cry out to You. … In the place of destruction, pour out the full extent of Jesus’ life. In the place of confusion and fear, be to us a wonderful, mighty Prince of Peace. In the place of mourning and despair, cover us with comfort and reassurance. …

“We are deeply shocked and saddened by these terrorist attacks and call upon followers of Jesus Christ in this country and around the world to pray and to reach out with compassionate help,” said NAE chairman Dr. Edward L. Foggs.

Carrying the prayer vigils into the week, the NAE has taken out a full-page ad in Tuesday’s USA Today to disseminate the prayer and to “help America speak to God with one voice.”

Also beginning Tuesday, Sept. 18, is the Fourth Pastoral Congressional Prayer Conference.

Planned long before this week’s tragedies, event coordinators feel the conference is all the more timely.

Originally, the event was open only to ministers and congressmen, said conference co-convener Dr. Wiley Drake of First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park, Calif. Drake is best known for his involvement in the Disney boycott by the Southern Baptist Convention and his outspoken advocacy for the nation’s homeless. One hundred and fifty homeless find refuge on Drake’s church campus each night.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, however, Drake said the event was “open to anyone who would like to come and pray. We didn’t want to be selective, but in the event of what’s happened, we wanted to open it up to all.”

Meeting on Capitol Hill with legislators and judges, “We were worried about space, but if we run out of room, we’ll just do an overflow situation. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

As the event is planned, it will stretch three days, starting Tuesday morning at the “Pentagon Hilton,” positioned directly across from the fire-razed headquarters of the nation’s defense.

From there, participants will travel to the Senate where they will meet in prayer with joining senators. Wednesday, participants will meet at the House of Representatives and Thursday the Supreme Court. A toll-free number (800-660-2006) and website are available for more details as they become available.

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