Chaplain (Maj.) Ken May sings, ‘Be Still and Know’ as attendees gathered their breakfast and found their seats during Fort Jackson’s Prayer Breakfast and National Day of Prayer, May 3. 

Prayer Breakfast - Helping Soldiers, Families 'kit up'

Story, photos by Emily Hileman, Fort Jackson Public Affairs

The National Day of Prayer has been held since April 17, 1952 when President Harry S. Truman signed it into law. It has been observed ever since with each president signing a proclamation each year.

Many Soldiers are prepared for battle both physically and mentally. After all, it’s what they joined and have trained for here at Fort Jackson and around the world. They can assemble their rucksacks, properly wear their Kevlar, and handle their weapons almost in their sleep, but are they spiritually prepared for battle?

“I think many of us are like, ‘Yeah, I’m kitted up, I’m ready for battle,’” said Chaplain (Col.) Steven Peck during Fort Jackson’s National Prayer Breakfast, May 3. “Paul says, ‘Hey, now that you’ve got all that on … Pray. Pray. Pray. Pray, with perseverance. Pray … and Pray.’”

And that’s just what the Chaplains, Soldiers, civilians, Family and friends did during the National Prayer Breakfast and in observance of the National Day of Prayer on May 4.

Although the National Prayer Breakfast is an annual event held in Washington, D.C. in February, Fort Jackson held another prayer breakfast on May 3, the day before the National Day of Prayer “to bring together the Fort Jackson communities to recognize the importance of prayer and spiritual readiness,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Ronnie Irwin. “So that not only would we be physically and mentally ready, but also spiritually ready to accomplish any mission that we’re assigned to here at Fort Jackson and around the world.”

National days of prayer have been called for since 1775. However, the National Day of Prayer was signed into law by President Harry S. Truman on April 17, 1952. Since then, every president has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

After spiritual music was performed by members of the 282nd Army Band and Chaplain (Maj.) Ken May, chaplains Capt. Jonathan Stephens and Capt. Christopher Erickson delivered prayers for the nation as well as for the cadre and their Families.

Following a series of morning prayers, Peck delivered a religious message, emphasizing the importance of being spiritually prepared for battle and the true intent of prayer.

“The intent of prayer is not the laundry list of the things we want to try and get God to do,” Peck said. “The intent of prayer is for God to move our heart to His desire and purpose.”

Brig. Gen. Jason E. Kelly, Fort Jackson commander concluded the breakfast and messages by saying, “In whichever way an individual prefers to cultivate and maintain spiritual fitness, the U.S. Army maintains a stable of capable, able, and willing chaplains to help. Chaplains stand ready to shepherd the flock, us, through the tough times and reinforce our spirits for the challenges we might face.”

The National Day of Prayer encourages Americans to pray in accordance with their own religious traditions and consciences and the goal is to unite us as a nation, as we honor our diverse religious beliefs and cultural practices.