CORNELIUS – About 50 people from several Lake Norman churches gathered May 1 on the steps of Cornelius Town Hall to pray for the nation as part of the National Day of Prayer.

Grace Covenant Church led the annual event for the 12th year in a row.

This year, early primary voting inside Cornelius Town Hall served as an apropos backdrop to the prayers for national and local leaders.

The Cornelius gathering was one of 18 in the Charlotte area listed on the National Day of Prayer website. Hopewell Baptist Church in Davidson also held a morning and evening prayer gathering, attended by more than 40 people.

In 1952, the U.S. Congress created The National Day of Prayer resolution, which was signed into law by President Truman. In 1988, President Reagan amended the law, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.

The theme verse for the 2014 National Day of Prayer was Romans 15:6:  “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

After a welcome from Pastor Farrell Lemings, fifth-graders from Grace Covenant Academy led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance while the American flag whipped on the pole overhead.

Below are excerpts from the prayers offered on Thursday:

• For national leaders – “Grant our leaders wisdom, guidance, discernment and protection.” – Jesse McCloud, Lake Forest Church.

• For state leaders – “We pray that they would turn their hearts fully to you and look to you for all the decisions they make.” – Joe Esseck, Lake Forest Church.

• For local leaders – “Not only do we pray for the local leaders that we know by name, but we pray for the local leaders that we don’t know by name who never get recognized.” – Quinn Rodgers, Chapel Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

• For judges – “I pray that they would be like Solomon, Lord, and that they would be filled with divine wisdom that no man could explain. God, I pray that you would give them ears to hear the truth … May our nation be known as a land of justice and mercy and kindness and rightness.”  – Michelle Hoverson, Grace Covenant Church.

• For educators – “We pray for all teachers across the land … We pray for the sacrifices they make, most often without adequate financial support. We pray that we would not forget the important work that they do in raising up the next generation in our communities.” – Tim Reimer, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.

• For military – “Lord, we know that you are a God of peace, and you are our fortress and our strong tower. We acknowledge that those serving in our military are agents of peace and your agents of our defense. So Lord, I pray that you would watch over by your holy angels those in our military who are in harm’s way.” – Bud Stokley, Grace Covenant Church.

• For churches – “We come to you today united, seeking that your will be done. Lord, love through us.” – David Brown, Grace Covenant.