The 2019 Community Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, May 2 drew 1,425 people to City of Palms Park in Fort Myers, where attendees heard messages of love, respect and unity.
The Community Prayer Breakfast is a Southwest Florida tradition that began in 1988 to recognize the National Day of Prayer, a time when individuals of all faiths join together in unified prayer for continued blessings on the nation. This year’s theme was “Love One Another,” and keynote speaker Michael Hingson noted attendees might be Jewish, Muslim or Christian, but they still share many of the same goals, hopes and dreams.
“We all came from the same God,” Hingson said. “We are all together.”
Hingson recounted his inspirational story of surviving the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center with the help of his guide dog, Roselle. Hingson was on the 78th floor of Tower 1 when the building was rocked by an explosion, and Roselle joined Hingson and dozens of others who fled down a stairwell to safety, escaping just before Tower 2 collapsed.
Blind since birth, Hingson said he was taught as a child to “deal with the situation the best you can,” and that advice has stuck with him as others doubted his abilities over the years. The best-selling author and motivational speaker is CEO of the Do More Foundation, the nonprofit arm of a company that manufactures assistive technology.
“Blindness isn’t the problem,” Hingson said. “It’s our perception of blindness that’s the problem.”
Coordinated by Cypress Lake United Methodist Church, the Community Prayer Breakfast is underwritten by more than 50 generous corporate and individual sponsors, and the event featured prayers and scripture readings by a panel of distinguished multi-denominational leaders. Attendees also went around their respective tables to say prayers for each other.
Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson, who emceed the event, likened the impact of prayer to that of calisthenics’ impact on the body, or the influence of studying on the brain.
“Prayer strengthens a nation and its people,” said Henderson, adding that America’s founders placed a high value on prayer and religion.
The Community Prayer Breakfast is among hundreds of local observances held on the National Day of Prayer, which encouraged all Americans to pray for the country and each other. That’s critically important, Hingson said, to accomplish any common goals.
“We need to respect each other,” Hingson said. “We need to recognize all of us here are working together.”