Only God could have created and sustained our free nation. Throughout American history, He has inspired and responded to the fervent prayers of His people. On this National Day of Prayer 2017, as we intercede for our nation, it is encouraging to remember how God has answered prayer at critical times in our history:
- Christopher Columbus wrote in his diary that he was guided by the Holy Spirit as he sought direction to find the New World.
- The pilgrims of the Mayflower fasted and prayed for the relief of the unrelenting drought threatening their lives. The gracious and speedy answer from God saved their lives during the early years of the Plymouth Plantation.
- A national day of prayer was called for by the first Continental Congress in 1775.
- Our nation nearly disintegrated when the debate over our Constitution came to a standstill. In response, Benjamin Franklin called the Continental Congress to prayer. Within two days, the Congress produced the final draft of the world’s longest standing constitution.
- A young Colonial officer and man of prayer, George Washington, miraculously survived many battles (even one where his jacket had 4 bullet holes and his horse was shot out from under him two times) and later became the first President of the United States of America.
- In 1863, when our nation was split and broken during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln called for a national day of humiliation, prayer and fasting. The nation was preserved.
- In 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a national radio broadcast asked Americans to join him in prayer on D-Day, when the Allies invaded Normandy.
- In 1952, President Harry S. Truman recognized the need for the nation to pray by signing into law the National Day of Prayer.
- In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the National Day of Prayer to be on the first Thursday of May.
Prayer has played an undeniable and critical role in our nation! It is of paramount importance for our leaders to continue this great tradition. The National Day of Prayer 2017 reminds us of the urgent need to pray.
Regardless of our political positions or spiritual traditions, we agree that our government leaders are not perfect. We know this with great confidence, not because of what we have read in the press, but because the Scriptures say that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Our leaders, just like us, are imperfect men and women in need of Divine guidance. As a result of their power and position, our leaders need even more concerted and effective prayer. There is a constant temptation for leaders in government to amass power and replace reliance upon God with the reliance upon our State. This creates an environment that erodes the religious freedoms afforded to us by Nature’s God, who creates all with the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
Just as a syrup maker boils down the raw syrup to clarify and intensify the flavor, on this day we must clarify and intensify our prayers for leaders who have a sinful nature and for our free government that could elevate its importance above the individual and the Church.
We must specifically pray:
- The Church would lead our nation in righteousness. Righteousness exalts a nation—it was never the role of government to define righteousness for us.
- Our nation would understand that all of us are accountable for our collective actions, in light of God’s promise in Micah: I will take vengeance in anger and wrath on the nations that have not obeyed me. (Mic. 5:15)
- We would submit to God’s design for our government, found in Isaiah 33:22: For the Lord is our judge, the Lord is our lawgiver, and the Lord is our King, it is he who saves. Government was created by God as one of three central institutions (in addition to the Church and marriage) He established to care for his creation.
- God would raise up humble leaders who understand where we can find enough wisdom to solve any problem our nation might face—the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. (Is. 33:6)
The theme of this 66th National Day of Prayer is “Hear us, forgive us and heal us.” We must pray for the supremacy and the effectiveness of the Church to lead our nation and our nation’s leaders. We must renounce spiritual nationalism which rests on the hope that our government will usher in God’s kingdom. Rather, we must remember that it was the First Great Awakening of the Church that produced the first leaders for our nation. It was not the other way around–our government will not usher in the next great awakening.
Our spiritual freedom, and perhaps the world’s spiritual freedom as well, rest upon our prayers for our nation. Christians have been the world’s leaders for spiritual freedom and have brought hope to countless millions who pray for our nation so that they might have some benefit in their own. Across the world, anti-Semitism, religiously-motivated terrorism, and religious discrimination are on the rise. It is our responsibility as Christians in this nation to fight, on our knees, for our religious freedoms here so that these freedoms would flourish abroad as well.
Please join me in fervent prayer on this special day. Our Creator, Yhwh, can change the course of nations. He invites us join him in creating history through prayer. It is a Divine opportunity we cannot miss.