Today is The National Day of Prayer.
Following a joint resolution in Congress, President Harry Truman signed it into law in 1952. Every President since has signed a proclamation observing such a day. In 1988, President Reagan with unanimous consent of Congress designateded the first Thursday of May to be the annual day of National Prayer.
In promoting this day their website reads in part, “Prayer brings people together. Prayer builds bridges between opposing persons and even political parties. Prayer reminds us that we are created in God’s image and He desires for us to represent Him everywhere we go. Prayer brings UNITY.”
The theme for 2018, is “Pray for America – UNITY.” It is based upon Ephesians 4:3 “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Prayer is always appropriate. And every day ought to be a day of prayer for Christians. The Bible admonishes us to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) In Luke 18 Jesus told a parable encouraging persistence in prayer and says that we “always ought to pray and not lose heart.”
Today it is easy to “lose heart” when we see a nation divided by political posturing, moral values, and personal opinions. In fact, having a National Day of Prayer is divisive.
According to an article in Patheos by Michael Stone, secular humanists believe that the “national day of prayer insults reason (and) mocks the U.S. Constitution. He quotes the Americans United for the Separation of Church and State who assert that “The National Day of Prayer has become a vehicle for spreading religious misinformation and fundamentalist Christian doctrine under the aegis of the government; precisely what the framers were seeking to prohibit.”
I believe Stone and others of his ilk have misrepresented and misapplied the Founding Fathers’ intentions. But his prejudice against religion in general and contempt against Christianity specifically is summed up with these vitriolic words. “Indeed, the U.S. government has no business promoting religious superstition and ignorance, no business telling Americans how and when to pray, and no business encouraging what is at best self-gratifying mental masturbation.”
Stone is wrong. And his language is insulting to people of faith. The Humanists who deny the existence of Jehovah God are also misguided. Both the book of revelation, the Bible and the book of nature through the wonders of Creation attest that “there is a God.”
God promises to hear the prayers of the righteous (Prov 15:29). And God answers prayer. Maybe not in the way that we always desire. But He knows what is best for us and his ears are open to our pleas. (1Pet. 3:12).
Charles Spurgeon was right when he wrote, “True prayer is neither a mere mental exercise nor a vocal performance. It is far deeper than that – it is spiritual transaction with the Creator of Heaven and Earth.”
Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President once admitted, “ I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” Lincoln, however, further warned, “I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right, but it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord’s side.”
In his 1955 proclamation, President Dwight Eisenhower said, “…all of those whom we have revered as leaders throughout our history have been wont to turn to Almighty God in thanks for His providence and in suppliance for His guidance; and … it is fitting that we of this generation, who are the heirs of their handiwork, should emulate those inspired builders of our Nation and should turn our hearts and minds to things spiritual.”
In 1980 President Jimmy Carter said, I ask Americans to join me in thanksgiving to God for His blessings and in earnest prayer to Him for His protection in the year ahead.”
In issuing the 1995 proclamation, President Bill Clinton observed, “Our Nation was built on the steadfast foundation of the prayers of our ancestors. In times of blessing and crisis, stability and change, thanksgiving and repentance, appeals for Divine direction have helped the citizens of the United States to remain faithful to our long-standing commitment to life, liberty, and justice for all.”
In his statement today, President Trump says, “We are united in prayer, each according to our own faith and tradition.” He further says that “We are also reminded and reaffirm that all human beings have the right, not only to pray and worship according to their consciences, but to practice their faith in their homes, schools, charities, and businesses—in private and in the public square—free from government coercion, discrimination, or persecution.”
The apostle Paul urged Christians in a decadent society under a corrupt government to pray. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. 3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Today pray for our national, state and local leaders. Pray for peace. Pray for a spiritual awakening. Pray for our military and first responders. Pray for God’s Word to his free course in the hearts of receptive seekers. Pray for gospel preachers to boldly proclaim the Truth. Pray for our churches to pursue God’s divine purpose. And pray for families to honor God, His Word, and His way. And finally, pray for yourself and your family’s steadfast faithfulness.
As Tennyson once wrote, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman