Some of the 130 or so people attending the National Day of Prayer gathering at The Commons came as agents of freedom for people battling addiction.

Crowd member Larry Joe Stone was among supporters who turned out Thursday to help.

“Prayer activates angels to fight on behalf of those in bondage,” Stone said after the hour-long, interdenominational Christian service. It carried the formal nationwide theme of “For Your Great Name’s Sake: Hear Us, Forgive Us, Heal Us.”

But the informal focus was on the community-wide addictions and heroin and opioid crisis. Stone said he knows people who have fought addictions.

Story continues below gallery

Click here to purchase photos from this gallery

Members of the audience linked with ministry, law enforcement, government, health care and other realms offered petitions connected to the local and national problem, plus other issues. The event has been celebrated in Columbus since the late Jean Bunton of Garden City planned the first local Day of Prayer in 1992.

Thursday’s gathering unfolded at the close of a 72-hour public reading of the Bible via 360 believers from more than 30 churches on the City Hall steps.

Tom Currens has coordinated the reading for several years, and earned a salute for his efforts.

“What an awesome thing that was happening on those steps,” said the Rev. Tracy McIntyre, prayer day emcee and among longtime organizers of the local celebration.

Magistrate Joe Meek’s comments highlighted the breadth of addictions issue.

“This isn’t just a legal problem,” Meek said before he bowed his head in prayer. “It not just a public health problem. This is a problem that all of us, especially believers, need to tackle together.”

Others echoed the importance of unity among believers in order to see God move to enact change.

Tom Passo emphasized such.

“We have to come in one accord and pray for our nation,” Passo said afterward. “We’re commanded in Scripture to do that.”

Passo said there is much work to be done toward building Christian unity, “but it takes only a few to get the job done.”

Several of the people offering public prayer included a reminder that the one they see as ultimately changing addictions to freedom is God. Clinical psychologist Dr. Karl Evans prayed, “all healing always ultimately comes from you, Lord — let us remember that.”

The Rev. Shane Rocker, pastor of Calvary Community Fellowship Church of the Nazarene, prayed for churches, families and marriage. In his remarks before praying, he reminded his audience that seeing devastation — fractured families, fractured marriages and divided churches — amid today’s struggles is hardly uncommon.

“We have an enemy who loves to destroy what God intends to be good,” Rocker said.

The Grider Sisters presented acapella, four-part harmony on the contemporary worship song, “Oceans,” and an older, traditional favorite, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”

And McIntyre reminded people that although some media has reported that Christianity and its power are dead today, he begged to differ.

“God is not done,” he said energetic applause. “And you know what? I don’t take that from the (opinion) polls.

“I take that from Jesus. He said, ‘I will build my church. And the gates of hell will not prevail against it.’”

Author photo
Brian Blair is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5672.