The National Day of Prayer
Tomorrow, the first Thursday of May, is the National Day of Prayer. Many will be gathering in groups around the nation, praying together for God’s hand to lead America. Today’s post is written by our good friend, Timmerle Kelly. She is the Executive Director of the Reformation Prayer Network, reaching all 50 states. Timmerle shares:
“Observing a day of prayer for our nation, the National Day of Prayer can be traced back to the founding of the United States. Throughout history, our nation's leaders have called for prayer during times of crisis, challenge, or thanksgiving. As early as 1775, the Continental Congress declared a day of prayer to seek God's guidance and protection as they sought independence from Britain.1 Their motivation may have been Proverbs 3:5-6. The New King James Version says, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.’
“Throughout the years, presidents, including George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, proclaimed days of fasting and prayer. These leaders understood their need for God’s intervention as they led America. They believed His Word and set aside time to seek His face.
“After a joint resolution by Congress in 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed the National Day of Prayer into law, making it an annual observance. President Ronald Reagan determined it should be observed annually on the first Thursday of May.2 Every president since Truman has issued a proclamation recognizing the National Day of Prayer, affirming the importance of prayer in the life of our nation.3
The Theme for 2023
“This year, the theme of the National Day of Prayer is ‘Pray Fervently in Righteousness and Avail Much’; it is taken from James 5:16 (NKJV), ‘The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.’4 This is a timely reminder that as we join together in prayer, we are partnering with God and engaging in powerful spiritual warfare.
“As we walk in righteousness, our prayers have the potential to produce dramatic change, not only in our lives, but also in the world around us. To pray fervently means to be persistent and passionate in our prayers, refusing to give up or be discouraged until we see answers to our intercession. In this, we find our strength and our hope.
“Kathy Branzell, President of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, shared her thoughts regarding this year's theme, stating, ‘God’s Word is clear, “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NKJV). This is a time for us to come together, united in prayer, seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.’5
“Tomorrow, may we join others in praying fervently and passionately for our nation. Righteousness is not something we can achieve on our own, but rather, is a gift from God through the blood of Jesus as we repent and believe on Him. Ask for this on behalf of our nation. As we submit ourselves to Him and walk in His ways, we can be confident that our prayers will avail much, impacting our nation for the glory of God.
The Power of Unity in Prayer
“Unity is a vital force within the body of Christ and is essential as we remember the National Day of Prayer. In John 17:21 (NKJV), Jesus prayed that ‘...they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You.’ When we unite in prayer, we fulfill the heart of Jesus' prayer, demonstrating to the world the love and unity that can be found in Him.
“Kathy Branzell emphasized the importance of unity in prayer, saying in her article regarding this year’s NDP, that this is a time ‘for us to come together, united in prayer, to seek His face and turn from our wicked ways.’6 This unity in prayer sends a clear message to the enemy that we are standing strong, united under the banner of Christ. As we pray and agree together, we can shift the spiritual atmosphere and bring about change in our nation (see Matthew 18:19-20).
“Dave Kubal, president of Intercessors for America, urges believers to pray for our leaders, emphasizing this as a Biblical mandate.7 We elect our leaders, but we must ask God to lead them. We often focus on our denominational and political differences and quarrels, but it is a significant statement to the nations that American Christians can put aside their differences and pray together for our country and its leaders. As we come together, we are declaring that we trust in God's mercy and power, knowing He is the only One who can bring healing and restoration to our land.
Taking Action on the National Day of Prayer
“Let’s pray tomorrow, especially for those who lead us governmentally, doing so in accordance with 1 Timothy 2:2, ‘Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.’ Pray for national leaders as well as your state and local leaders - governors, mayors, city council members, etc. Intercessors for America (IFApray.org) lists the leaders of each state on their website. If you do not already know yours, you can find them there.
“God established the family as the core institution for humans on earth. Our families are meant to be places of security, where we form our sense of self and identity, and where we should learn to worship God. We are all aware the enemy hates family. It is a primary focus of Satan’s attacks and is a subject worthy of our fervent intercession. Praying for those that govern us and for families are just two of many areas we can focus on tomorrow.
“There are local National Day of Prayer gatherings where you can pray with other Christians in your community. Many sites are listed on the National Day of Prayer.org website. If there isn’t one near you, consider taking the initiative to gather your family, friends, and co-workers together to pray for our nation.
“We are grateful that our Presidents saw fit to set aside a day each year so we could join together to pray for America. It has never been more important that we do so. Take some time tomorrow to pause and pray for our great nation.
“May our hearts be filled with hope and expectation as we join together on this year’s National Day of Prayer.”
Pray with me:
Father, tomorrow is a significant day in America, a set-apart day when Your Church crosses denominational, cultural, and political lines, humbles herself, and prays together for our nation. We are told to approach You daily, asking for heaven’s bread and provision. Many do so. And yet, it is good and important that we set apart a national, government-honored day to seek You. America is in desperate need of Your guidance and direction. Forgive us for our national sin of rejecting You and neglecting to seek Your plans and Your ways. We have wandered far from You, yet You are merciful.
You multiply power when we pray in unity; we do so now. We pray that the spiritual atmosphere over our nation shifts, that the united prayers of Your people would be used to usher in transformation, justice, and Your intervention in every sphere of society. As people participate, move upon their hearts, especially those who don’t know You or are lukewarm in their walk with You. Awaken desire in them! And also, as some who are complacent participate, we ask You to alert many of them to America’s desperate need of You. And lastly, we ask for an awakening, a stirring, in the hearts of pastors and leaders toward prayer. So few churches pray. Please change this somehow.
In Jesus’ healing name, we pray. Amen.
We decree that as we agree in fervent prayer on the National Day of Prayer, power will be released to accomplish a mighty move of God's Spirit, bringing healing and restoration to America.
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