A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was one of seven religious leaders to participate in the White House National Day of Prayer service in Washington, D.C. Only a small group of participants attended the annual event in the Rose Garden, due to social distancing concerns and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With the other great faiths represented, I felt our hearts were knit together in unity,” said Debbie Marriott Harrison, global cultural ambassador at Marriott International and member of the Church’s Public Affairs Advisory Council in the nation’s capital. “It was powerful to be with these other leaders, and we are happy to continue to partner with them in doing good in our communities.”
United States President Donald J. Trump issued a proclamation designating May 7, 2020, as a National Day of Prayer. The event, always on the first Thursday in May, has been a tradition every year since 1952.
During the afternoon ceremony, the president said he was “profoundly grateful to be joined by many faith leaders who are helping to care for our neighbors in their hour of need. Thank you all for providing meals to families, medical supplies to hospitals, and for providing spiritual strength and encouragement to your communities.”
The president was joined by first lady Melania Trump, who gave an introductory prayer. Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen, also attended the event.
“We are grateful this day to be gathered together with the representatives from many faiths, united in prayer to appeal to Thy mercy and grace in helping us and our nation,” said Sister Harrison as she prayed. “We are grateful to be in a country where we have the right to exercise our religious beliefs.
“We are united in prayer today, to ask a special blessing of deliverance, deliverance from this pandemic that has covered the earth in a devastating sickness,” Sister Harrison continued.
In her prayer, she also asked for a blessing upon medical workers, scientists and government leaders.
“We love Thee, Heavenly Father, and call down the powers of Heaven to help us, unite us and deliver us from these troubled times,” concluded Sister Harrison.
She was joined at the White House by Pastor Brittany Akinsola, a nurse at Samaritan’s Purse; Sister Eneyda Martinez from Poor Sisters of St. Joseph; Pujari Harish Brahmbhatt from B.A.P.S. Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey; Bishop Dwight Green, a member of the Board of Bishops of the Church of God in Christ; U.S. Army Chaplain Ibraheem A. Raheem from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center; and Rabbi Ariel Sadwin, executive director of the Agudath Israel of Maryland — Mid-Atlantic Region.
«This was the event of a lifetime,» said Sister Harrison as she reflected on the experience. «I’m so grateful and I’m so humbled and honored that the leaders of our Church would ask me to do this.»
«I wanted to make sure I did a little bit of teaching of our doctrine in the prayer,» she explained. «I wanted to make sure that there was no doubt in anybody’s mind that we worship our Savior, Jesus Christ, as well as Heavenly Father, and that we are Christians.»
Watch the entire event on the White House YouTube channel. Sister Harrison’s prayer begins at time code 37:15.
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