As many as 60,000 people representing over 300 churches and 65 youth organizations gathered Sunday for an hour of prayer in New York City's Times Square.
On the day that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg proclaimed to be "Prayer in the Square Day," the thousands who gathered for "Prayer in the Square" prayed for the nation in three-minute intervals with songs performed by a 180-voice gospel choir between each prayer segment.
"Since its establishment, this event has encouraged the faith of all those in attendance, celebrating their beliefs through praise and worship," commented Bloomberg, who is Jewish by faith.
"'Prayer in the Square' provides an opportunity for all Christians – regardless of their age, race, gender, or denomination – to renew and deepen their commitment to our city's spiritual community," Bloomberg added. "In all our diversity, New Yorkers share an appreciation for the power of faith. After all, our city was built by people who came here in order to worship God freely."
The mayor called the hour of prayer a "powerful symbol of unity."
Hosted by Times Square Church, "Prayer in the Square" has been held for the last three years for the sole purpose of gathering people for one hour of prayer, in humility, with all denominations represented and no personalities or ministry showcased.
And this year's gathering was particularly meaningful as it was expected to be the last and as it was held amid the current economic recession.
"In prayer three years ago, we felt that 2009 would be a time of great distress for our city and country," commented Carter Conlon, pastor of Times Square Church. "I do not believe that He would have called us to gather in such a place and at such a time if He had not planned to answer our prayer."
Last year, more than 18,000 people from over 200 congregations convened in Times Square for "Prayer in the Square." This year, organizers expected around 30,000 to join but shot for 50,000.
What they got, according to estimates, were as many as 60,000 gathered in Times Square. Thousands more also joined via the live webcast from 26 other states and 19 countries including Burundi, Pakistan, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Benin, Singapore, and Israel.
"I believe we will see the fulfillment of why God has asked us to pray," commented Conlon.