Oct. 1, 2001, (RNS)--A new effort called the Presidential Prayer Team is registering tens of thousands of Americans to pray for President Bush and the nation in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We have 140,000 people that have come over the Internet, signing up their commitment to pray daily for the president," William Hunter, president and founder of the initiative, told Religion News Service on Oct. 1.

"People are coming together, realizing that need to pray for our president and our nation."

Hunter, a Scottsdale, Ariz., businessman and sculptor, came up with the idea of praying for Bush soon after the inauguration.

A lay member of Scottsdale Bible Church, a nondenominational congregation, he had encouraged members of his Sunday school class to pray for the president each day and had given those who pledged to do so a patriotic coin he designed as a prayer reminder.

Hunter's plan to nationally distribute a new coin depicting President George Washington praying at Valley Forge has been delayed by the events of Sept. 11.

With funding from the Envoy Group, a Tucson, Ariz.-based Christian advertising company, he began publicizing the prayer effort and will be sending free decals with the coin's design to those who sign up to pray for Bush, his administration and the country.

The team's work is endorsed by Christian leaders and Mission America, a consortium of evangelical denominations and ministries, but Hunter hopes it will be an interfaith prayer effort.

"From the very get-go, we have set it up to be for all faiths," he said. "We want anybody involved that prays to the God of our universe to be involved in prayer."

During the last week of September, as many as 25,000 people signed up in one day.

"Our goal is to have 2.8 million -- that's 1 percent of the U.S. population -- praying for the president each day," Hunter said.

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