Writer, speaker and worship leader Chrystal Hurst used Bible verses and stories of her family to ask the crowd at the Mayor’s National Day of Prayer Breakfast, “Why don’t we pray more?”

The seventh annual event, which took place Thursday morning at Civic Arena, drew a crowd of more than 600 people. It was a local celebration of the National Day of Prayer, established in 1952 to encourage citizens to turn to God for both prayer and meditation.

Mayor Bill McMurray briefly took the stage after breakfast was served, explaining the importance of prayer in our lives, before Hurst, the guest speaker for the event, was introduced.

As a member of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship, Hurst often assists in leading the women’s ministry and recently co-authored “Kingdom Woman” with her father. A mother of five, she used her experiences as well as specific verses from the Bible to explain the importance of prayer to those in attendance.

“Yes, we want what we want; that’s why we pray. We hope for what we hope for; that’s why we pray. If there were no desire for ourselves or for someone else, we wouldn’t bother to pray,” Hurst says. “But the reality is, prayer changes us, but often prayer changes our perspective.”

Hurst says that prayer often seems reserved for big problems, but the simple act of praying to God can incorporate every aspect of our lives, big or small.

“We may not think that we have the right words or that we’re not articulate enough, or, ‘Prayer: that thing is reserved for people who should do it professionally.’ But I want to submit to you that prayer is for everybody about everything. ... Prayer is only reserved for those people who want to accept the invitation to have a conversation with God.”

Former Mayor Bill Falkner was called to the stage shortly thereafter and was given a personal Bible with his name embossed in it, for his dedication to the Mayor’s National Day of Prayer Breakfast event through the years. Clergy members and elected officials then stood to pray over both Falkner and McMurray, who was elected last month.

“I’m always so grateful when people of many different religions and backgrounds come together, and especially this morning, when they come together to pray.” McMurray said. “It was a very wonderful way to start the day, and we need to pray every day for our city and for one another.”

When asked what he thought of the turnout of more than 600 people this year, McMurray made reference to Hurst’s mention of the number 7 being the number of completion and finality.

“Well, it’s not 700, which would be that perfect number that she mentioned,” he laughed. “And I guess that’s good because really our work is not completed. We have a lot to do in St. Joe, and through the power of prayer, I believe we’ll get it done.”

Daniel Cobb can be reached at daniel.cobb@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowCobb.