On Saturday, September 26, tens of thousands of people poured into the capital and the National Mall to attend the Prayer March led by Franklin Graham.
“It’s maybe the most critical time in recent history,” said Graham, son of the late evangelist Billy Graham, in a promotional video on the event webpage.
The purpose of the march was prayer. It was not a political event and was not designed to support any particular party. According to the event’s website:
The Washington Prayer March 2020 event is a dedicated prayer march that is focused solely on asking God to heal our land. It is not a protest or political event, and we are asking participants to not bring signs in support of any candidate or party.
This proclamation rang true to those in attendance like Krystal Pister, an occupational curriculum coach from North Carolina who drove to the event with a friend from California.
“This was about Jesus. There was no political agenda or pledging support for a president or a cause. This was people coming humbly before God,” said Pister.
The two-hour event was scheduled to pause at seven locations along the 1.8-mile route, and participants were asked to “pray silently using the focus and prompts for each location.”
The prayer march included the following prayer points, among others:
- Military, police, firefighters, other law enforcement, and their families.
- Frontline medical workers, salvation of the lost, an end to the coronavirus pandemic, strength in families.
- An end to abortion.
- The President, Vice President, their families, and those who work in the White House.
- Kindness to one other and respect between the races.
- Healing in communities torn by violence and injustice.
- Religious freedom and boldness for churches to preach in a troubled world.
- Congress, state and local leaders, and the Supreme Court and judges across the U.S.
Although police were present, attendees state the event was peaceful. Some report prior concerns for safety which were quickly dispelled upon arrival.
“There was an overwhelming joy of acceptance and oneness. No rudeness—just floods of people singing and praying,” said Pister.
Popular Christian musician, Michael W. Smith led worship on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as thousands raised their voices in song.
The prayer event drew people from all corners of the country. Andrew and Jacquie Ferguson came as ambassadors of their local Calvary Chapel in Apple Valley, CA. Andrew serves as Administrative Pastor and his wife, Jacquie works in church ministry and network marketing from home.
The Ferguson’s arrived the day before the prayer march to do some sightseeing in the nation’s capital. “I was concerned about safety because of the rioting we’d seen on the news,” said Jacquie Ferguson. “But we trusted God and as soon as we got off the plane, we were surrounded by like-minded brothers and sisters. As we walked around, we were able to pray with other pastors and police officers. There was no violence, no danger.”
At the march, the Ferguson’s stood ten feet away from Franklin Graham as he delivered his message and prayer. Shortly after, opening prayers were offered by Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen.
Pence quoted several scriptures and urged the crowd to pray for the armed forces, the executive branch, Congress, and “the remarkable woman that the president will nominate to fill the seat on the Supreme Court today.”
“We were just blown away by the presence of God,” said Andrew Ferguson. “All the people of many denominations and believers of Jesus Christ came together in unity of spirit and deep urgency of how crucial it was to be in our nation’s capital to pray because of the state of our country.”
Doug Carter, a teacher of college ethics and world religion from North Carolina had a last-minute opportunity to attend the march with a friend from Tallahassee. Carter had just returned from the North Carolina Faith and Freedom Coalition: Salt and Light Conference.
“I wanted to go to the march to find out the reason others were attending,” Carter said. “As I started asking, I heard that people were very concerned about the moral shift we’ve seen in our country.”
Carter said he believes people were drawn there to repent and pray in unity. Repentance was a theme as people walked and prayed aloud quoting often the scripture from 2 Chronicles.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
For those unable to physically attend the march, Mike Huckabee and Cissie Graham Lynch hosted the livestream of Prayer March 2020 from Washington, D.C.
More than 3.8 million people watched the event live on Facebook, YouTube and the Prayer March website.
“We don’t just barge into the presence of God on our own,” said Doug Carter. “He has to call us. And when that many people are getting the same invitation from God to go and pray with heartfelt conviction and repentance— it isn’t for no reason. It was so He would hear our prayers.”