COLUMBIA — As Jeremy Tilford prayed under the Burford Shelter in Cosmo Park on Thursday night, he was lost in the moment, his words pouring out in a rush of passion.
"We ask you, God, that you impact our nation in a whole new way," Tilford said, and then asked God to reach out to the neighborhoods, schools, jails and the government. "We lay ourselves aside and ask that you come, and your Holy Spirit comes."
Tilford was part of The Latter House Kingdom Ministries' National Day of Prayer youth celebration called "Rock the Park." The nondenominational Columbia church has participated in the National Day of Prayer event at the state Capitol for the past three years, but this was the first year the church held a celebration for youth in Columbia.
The Latter House Kingdom Ministries wasn't the only group in Columbia that participated in the 60th Annual National Day of Prayer. A group called Prayer at Mizzou organized a week-long, all-day Pray Without Ceasing event at Campus Lutheran Church, which ended Thursday.
The national event, held the first Thursday of May, dates to 1952, when Congress passed a joint resolution declaring a national day of prayer. This year's theme was "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God," based on Psalm 91:2.
The Rock the Park event at Cosmo Park included prayer for the city, state and nation as well as musical performances by the church's arts and worship teams. The children of The Latter House Young Cubs sang songs, including "Jesus, You're My Superman," while wearing superhero capes.
"Our father is a living God with real emotions, and tonight we're celebrating with him," Latter House Kingdom Ministries Pastor Enos Chamberlain said.
Earlier, the Latter House Kingdom Ministries held a prayer breakfast for city leaders, including some City Council members. The church also joined other ministries around the state and politicians to pray on the steps of the state Capitol.
Pastors Enos Chamberlain and Diane Chamberlain, husband and wife who are on the National Day of Prayer Task Force for Missouri, said their church started the celebration in Columbia to reach out to youth.
"We want to showcase the young people's talents together," Diane Chamberlain said. "We want people to realize they have a common bond when they see other believers outside their church."
Meanwhile, the Pray Without Ceasing event reached its end Thursday for National Prayer Day. For the previous week, MU students signed up to take turns praying at all hours in a small prayer room in Campus Lutheran Church, upstairs from the sanctuary.
The colorful prayer room included musical instruments, pillows, copies of the Bible, Christian books by authors such as C.S. Lewis, a table for coffee and Communion and a table of art supplies. Posters with drawings, prayers and Bible verses decorated a prayer board, and the stained glass windows depicted a picture of Jesus. At about 3 p.m. Thursday, MU freshman Taylor Ortiz played the piano in the prayer room and softly sang a worship song called "With Everything" by Joel Houston.
"We just wanted to create a space that was comfortable and safe," Prayer at Mizzou founder Alex Cataldo said.
Cataldo said she started Pray Without Ceasing last year with fellow MU seniors Kaitlin Niewoehner and Laura Kebede, who recruited friends from various campus ministries. The event is not affiliated with any particular church or ministry.
Cataldo said the event includes prayer for MU, unity between campus ministries and the spread of the Christian faith.
"We really want to see the Gospel spread on the campus," Cataldo said. "We know if we pray together and open up to the leadership of God, he can use us to change the campus."