“Unprecedented times call for unprecedented prayer! This year’s ‘virtual’ National Day of Prayer observance may have more prayer – and more ‘pray-ers’ than ever before!,” wrote Kathy Branzell, President of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
I suspect we’ve had unprecedented prayer during the past two months of the COVID-19 crisis. In fact on March 14th, President Trump issued a proclamation for a special day of prayer when he declared a national emergency.
In that proclamation the President called upon all Americans “to pray for the health and well-being of your fellow Americans and to remember that no problem is too big for God to handle. We should all take to heart the holy words found in 1 Peter 5:7: “Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.” Let us pray that all those affected by the virus will feel the presence of our Lord’s protection and love during this time. With God’s help, we will overcome this threat.”
Today, the President will issue a similar proclamation on this annual National Day of Prayer.
This national prayer day began in 1952 when President Harry Truman signed it into law following a joint resolution of Congress. Every President since has signed a proclamation observing such a day. In 1988, President Reagan with unanimous consent of Congress designated the first Thursday of May to be the annual day of National Prayer.
No doubt secular humanists and atheists will object as they have in years past, but calling upon our citizens to pray has a rich heritage dating back to our founding fathers. The first Day of Prayer was in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation. Calls for national prayer continued throughout history.
On March 23, 1798, less than 12 years after the signing of the U.S. Constitution, our 2nd President, John Adams, called for a day of national prayer.
“The safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness cannot exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed.
Similarly, our 4th President, James Madison called for a day of prayer on July 9, 1812. And our 16th President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of fasting in 1863.
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.”
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.”
It is easy to “lose heart” in the midst of this current crisis as we’re fighting this unseen enemy COVID-19. Fear and worry have gripped the hearts of many who wonder what the future holds for our country. Furthermore when we see a nation divided by political posturing, moral values, and personal opinions, it is discouraging and worrisome.
Yes, more than ever we need more prayer and more ‘pray-ers.’
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. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior” (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
Pray for those affected by COVID-19. Pray for the sick and suffering. Pray for those who mourn the loss of loved ones. Pray for doctors, nurses, and all medical professionals. Pray for first responders and law enforcement officers. Pray for scientists feverishly working to find a cure for COVID-19. Pray for those who are struggling emotionally, financially and spiritually.
Today pray for our national, state and local leaders. Pray for peace. Pray for a spiritual awakening. Pray for God’s Word to have 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 that all meeting house doors will soon open and we can worship together again.
Finally pray for families to honor God, His Word, and His way. And pray for yourself and your family’s steadfast faithfulness.
“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective” (Jas. 5:16).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman