Clusters of people clasped hands and bowed their heads Thursday morning in prayer.

The prayers of the individuals gathered in the Harvey Convention Center filled the room with a soft chatter.

The attendees of the 24th annual Tyler Mayor's Prayer Breakfast came together to pray for a list of issues and people. They prayed for the United States of America and the city of Tyler including its institutions, people and first responders.

Thursday was the National Day of Prayer, and hundreds of people gathered at the annual breakfast to start the day with praise and worship.

"We thank you for our city," City Councilman Darryl Bowdre said in the opening prayer. "We thank you for the prosperity. We thank you for the mountains, and, yes, we thank you for the valleys."

The group held special prayers for the medical community in the city, nonprofits and volunteers, the city's educational system as well as military personnel and first responders.

The morning included praise and worship songs led by the Family of Faith Christian Choir, as well as a community singing of the National Anthem. John Weaver, with the Tyler Police Department, played the piece on his trumpet, and attendees chimed in with their hands resting over their hearts.

George Roberts, CEO of the Northeast Texas Public Health District, prayed for those who are ill, have sick loved ones, and for the medial community.

"I pray you will be these people's strength," Roberts said. "They are in your will, and you have a plan for them. I pray for that peace that passes all understanding."

Kevin East, president of Mentoring Minds, led the prayer for the nonprofit community in the city.

"I pray for us that we could mobilize your church throughout this community," he said. "I pray to spur the hearts of your people to volunteer. … I pray for our nonprofits that you would provide the resources that provide services to this community — that you would move in the hearts of your people to be generous to these ministries."

Rev. Orenthia Mason, Tyler ISD school board president, focused her prayer on teachers in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.

"Thank you for the way they give of themselves — everyday, week after week, year after year — serving and instructing the next generation of this land…" she said. "Bless the teachers this day. It is holy work that they do. It's holy work because, God, you created every child making them in God's image so they may grow into maturity and wholeness."

Dr. Doug Haning, a first responder chaplain and veteran, prayed for first responders and the armed forces serving domestically and abroad.

"We ask that you would wrap your loving arms around them everyday," Haning said. "These men and women put on protective gear, … and go out each and everyday knowing that they (may not) come home to their families. They see things they shouldn't see and hear things they shouldn't hear. We ask lord you will comfort their minds and hearts."

Mayor Martin Heines closed the hour of prayer and worship by asking attendees to volunteer their time to help others in need.

"Let's move forward excited about our faith, but also excited about what we can do to make someone's life better," he said. "We do that in this community, and that makes us special, and it's what makes you special. It's not one person, it's each and every one of us collectively working together."


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Faith Harper is an East Texas native working for her hometown newspaper. She specializes in digital content for the Tyler Morning Telegraph. In her spare time, she loves tacos, road trips and is currently learning to sail.