It’s a very special day in our country today. It’s not a day off from work or school and it’s not a day when we exchange cards or presents but, it’s important nonetheless. It is, The National Day of Prayer. Like many of you, I pray every day so a “national day to pray” may seem a bit redundant, but it’s not…it’s actually very powerful.
President Harry Truman officially established one day a year as a “National Day of Prayer” in 1952, but left the date of choice to each subsequent president. It was President Ronald Reagan who designated the first Thursday of May as the official annual National Day of Prayer.
So what exactly is this day to pray? Congress designated it to be a day of observance for people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” The two stated intentions of the day are for it to be a day when adherents of all great religions could unite in prayer and that it be a day to bring renewed respect for God to all peoples of the world. As with anything secular, the day has been both criticized and debated, so far all to no avail legally.
There is no official ceremony for the day but traditionally the President issues an official proclamation. Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush each hosted events to commemorate the day once during their administrations, while President George W. Bush held events every year while he was in office. There are no plans for any formal White House events today, but we as a country should pray nonetheless and President Obama has issued a proclamation that says in part, “All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.”
The National Day of Prayer Task Force has selected Greg Laurie as this year’s Honorary Chairman, who offers the following prayer for this year:
Father, we come to You to pray for our nation, the United States of America.
How You have blessed us through the years, Lord! We rightly sing, “America, America, God shed His grace on thee.” Yet we see trouble in our culture today. We see the breakdown of the family, crippling addictions, and random acts of horrific violence.
Lord, we need Your help in America. In recent days, we have done our best to remove Your Word and Your counsel from our courtrooms, classrooms and culture. It seems, as President Lincoln once said, that we have “forgotten God.” But Lord, You have not forgotten us! You can bless and help and revive our country again. Lord, in Your mercy, we ask that You would exalt our country again.
That is our prayer for America today, Lord. Send a mighty spiritual awakening that will turn the hearts of men and women, boys and girls back to you. Forgive us today, Lord, and heal this troubled land that we love so much.
We ask all of this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.