There have been times in our history when we definitely needed prayer but I daresay no time more so than now. Yes, there have always been wars and rumors of wars and always will be, but all of this hits closer and closer to home each day.
I have even read articles stating ISIS has camps in our country where they are training the ranks. Far fetched? I don’t think so. It is when we become unaffected, or fail to access the reality of a situation when we become the most vulnerable.
Praying should be second nature to us and something we do throughout the day. After all the Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. That doesn’t have to be 24-hours straight without taking a break but I even that is something we might consider in these perilous times.
Everywhere I look someone is going through something — a loss, an illness or other family crisis. While sometimes we may feel helpless or don’t know what we can do for them, we can always pray. That doesn’t mean prayer should be our last resort. In fact, it should be our first response.
President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that our nation should set apart a day for national prayer to confess our sins and transgressions in sorrow. He added, ”yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon … announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
Prior to Lincoln, days of fasting and prayer had been established by the Second Continental Congress and most presidents issued annual or special occasion for a national day of prayer. The only exceptions are Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
The modern law formalizing its annual observance was enacted in 1952 to be held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked ”to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. Since its inceptions our presidents have signed a proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray on that day.
In 2011 the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer was unsucessfully challenged in court by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. A federal appellate court dismissed the Wisconsin organization’s first attempt which was in 2008. The court ruled that FFRF did not have standing to sue because the National Day of Prayer had not caused them harm and stated that ”a feeling of alienation cannot suffice as injury.” The court further stated that ”the President is free to make appeals to the public based on many kinds of grounds, including political and religious, and that such requests do not obligate citizens to comply and do not encroach on citizens’ rights. The federal appeals court also cited Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, which referenced God seven times and prayer three times. Ironically, it is not only Christians who participate in a National Day of Prayer.
President George W. Bush made his first presidential act be the announcement of a National Day of Prayer,and he held events at the White House in each year of his presidency. His father also held events at the White House as did Ronald Reagan. Clinton nor Obama have held White House events but did issue proclamations.
Each year this gets challenged harder and each year it becomes more important that we gather together in unity to pray for our country and its leaders as well as our communities.
As far as I know there have not been any public National Day of Prayer observances here since I came in 2008. Therefore, I want to change that. We will hold a short National Day of Prayer in the parking lot of The Georgia Post Thursday, May 7, 2015 at noon . The program should not last more than 20 minutes. The public is invited and if you cannot participate please join with us in prayer by praying wherever you may be at noon on that day.
This year’s theme for the National Day of Prayer is ”Lord, Hear Our Cry”.
There is unity in prayer and God does hear our prayers, especially when we are doing so corporately. How could He not hear and answer.
Prayer crosses all political barriers. God tells us to pray and in a world where freedoms are taken away daily, it is a privilege to still be able to pray without fear of persecution.
While the National Day of Prayer is only one day a year, we should continue to pray every day for our country along with our other prayers. We shouldn’t just pray in times of crisis but at all times.
I have kept a prayer journal and every now and then I look back through the years and am in awe of the prayers which have been answered. God is still in control and He hears our cries. Join us in prayer for our nation. Blessings to you.
VICTORIA SIMMONS is a columnist, motivational speaker/ minister and publisher/gm of The Post/Byron Buzz. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org