Forty Days of Prayer starts today and the community is invited to participate in a kick-off prayer rally that is scheduled for noon Monday in the atrium of City Hall, 204 N. West Ave.
The ninth annual event will run through Nov. 9.
The coordinated community prayer campaign began in El Dorado in 2015 to help curb violence in the community.
El Dorado City Council Member Judy Ward introduced the idea of 40 Days after learning about a similar campaign in Peoria, Illinois.
Ward convened a meeting with community, civic and faith leaders on Sept. 8, 2018, just days after an El Dorado man, Cordario C Floyd, 23, was gunned down while he sat on his front porch.
The homicide took place exactly two months after 11-year-old Comesico T. Pumphrey was fatally wounded as he performed yard work at his grandmother's residence.
The boy was struck by stray bullets from gunfire that erupted among a group of men nearly two blocks away.
During the inaugural meeting that led to the launch of the local 40 Days campaign, Ward said violent crime had "become a serious issue" in El Dorado and she called on local residents to band together in the "power of prayer" to address the issue.
"We need every praying person in El Dorado to get involved," Ward said at the time.
Forty Days' prayer topics have since expanded to include a wide range of issues that affect the daily lives of residents in El Dorado, the U.S. and the world.
Prayer topics are disseminated through a number of sources, including local churches, social media, local newspaper and radio outlets and word of mouth.
An organizational meeting that was held Sept. 5 for the 2023 campaign drew a small crowd of city officials, local pastors and residents to the Council Chamber of City Hall to coordinate the event.
During the 40-day period, participants are asked to set aside five minutes for concentrated prayer on topics that are highlighted each day.
Volunteers write daily prayers for and match an applicable biblical scripture to the corresponding topics.
The 2023 topics were quickly snapped up during the organizational meeting. They largely mirror the prayer topics from 2022.
"We had 33 different writers for the 40 Days this year and so all those people and all those churches have the document that they can print and give to their church members or disseminate if they want to electronically," Ward said during an El Dorado City Council meeting on Sept. 27.
Today's prayer topic is "Thankful for the Avenue of Prayer". Fittingly, "Praise of God" will follow on Monday, the day of the community prayer session.
Other prayer topics throughout the 40-day period include: peace in our community; families and children; (the) elderly and those in nursing homes; (those) living in poverty; persecuted Christians; foster care/adoption; firefighters, police officers and paramedics; all leaders in government; mental health; those (who are) incarcerated and their families; teachers administrators and other school employees: safety in schools; (those who are) abused and abusive; and the homeless in our community.
The annual 40 Days' Prayer Walk will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 8, the last Wednesday of the event.
During the walk, participants visit different prayer stations -- starting at the El Dorado Police Department and stopping at City Hall/Central Fire Station and the El Dorado School District Central Office building -- before moving on to the Union County Courthouse to cap off the walk with fellowship and other activities.
At each stop, prayers are led by volunteers, many of whom are pastors.
Daily prayer topics will appear in the News-Times.
For more information and updates about 40 Days of Prayer, visit #eldorado40.com or the 40 Days Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages.