May 6th is considered the National Day of Prayer, the first Thursday in May being deemed as such when Reagan was in office. Personally, I've never been a big fan of the occasion. No more than when, after 9-11, vast multitudes packed America's church buildings including many people who hadn't prayed in quite a while, calling on God like they call on a plumber: whenever there's an emergency.
Are we under the impression that we'll all get God's attention if we “cram the ballot box,” so to speak?
Some will say, “Well, at least more people prayed.” Ok, whatever that's worth.
Others will say, “Maybe this will cause more to start praying more regularly.”
Perhaps but I don't think so.
I see it this way: Prayer is conversation with God. Created to Creator. Maker to the Made. One either knows Him or they don't. We either converse with Him regularly – falling deeper in love with Him and coming to know Him as Father as a result – or we toss Him a “prayer bone” on occasion. Like at our National Days of Prayer, for example.
Or on Sunday's or Holidays.
We are exhorted to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,” (2 Peter 3:18). Love is spelled “T-I-M-E.” I've found the more time we spend in prayer, the more we'll fall in love with the ones we pray FOR, WITH and the One we pray TO.
Ever courted a lover? Ever had anyone “pitch ya some woo”? That's what I'm talking about. Spend time with Jesus until He becomes that kind of lover and He comes to know you similarly.
Some say prayer moves God. I disagree; I believe it moves US!
Others say “Prayer changes things.” Again, I disagree... it changes US!
My prayer is that God will make us a Nation of Prayer. When my Pakistani friend humbly informed me many Pakistani Christians are praying that persecution will come to America “in hopes that the American Church will come to know Jesus as well as we do,” my flesh recoiled but my spirit knew exactly what he meant (I've heard Chinese Believers make that same statement about their American brethren). From that perspective, could the current state of American politics be seen as answered prayer? Yikes! It's sure forcing many people to pray who might have been neglecting that discipline.
I've seen the power of united prayer in action More importantly, I've seen those empowered by their own prayers, united in the Spirit and doing great exploits for the Kingdom when the supernatural came naturally.
THE BIBLE ON PRAYER...
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14).
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
"…The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective" (James 5:16). [You are righteous of God in Christ according to 2 Corinthians 5:21.]
"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Saints" (Ephesians 6:18). [the word "saints" itself is a translation of a Greek word (a[gioi - hagioi) which means "holy ones." In 1 Corinthians 1:2, Paul calls his readers "the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours." What makes this passage valuable is that Paul defines the church of God at Corinth (the Christians at Corinth, his readers) as "those who have been sanctified (Greek: hagiazo) in Jesus Christ, saints (Greek: hagioi) by calling." There are not two groups here that Paul writes the letter to - the church and the saints - but ONE group, The Church in Corinth, whom Paul refers to as “Saints”! Throughout his letters, Paul refers to living, breathing Christians at various places as "saints" (other verses include Acts 9:13; Acts 9:32; Eph 1:1,18; 3:18; Phil 1:1; Col 1:2, 12; 2 Cor 13:13;Phil 4:21-22; Rom 12:13; Rom 16:15; Rom 15:25-26, 31; 1 Cor 16:1-6; 2 Cor 8:4, 9:1, 12; 1 Cor 6:1-2; 1 Tim 6:10; Heb 13:24 and more).]
"...the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express" (Romans 8:26).
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).
"When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures" (James 4:3).
"...when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him" (Matthew 6:5-8).
"I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, "Go, throw yourself into the sea," and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours...'" (Mark 11:22-24). [Notice the tenses He uses here; believe (present) that you have received (past tense; already done) and it will (future tense). Cool huh?]
"....I will do whatever you ask in My Name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father... (John 14:13). [In My Name? According to His teachings and example. In other words, the way the Teacher woulda done it. Closing a prayer with “in Jesus' Name, amen” is not akin to “Roger, over 'n out” or some sort of incantation.]
A NATION THAT PRAYS TOGETHER, STAYS TOGETHER
Before D-Day, President Franklin Roosevelt called us to unite in prayer. He offered a prayer to prepare America for the road ahead. “Let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee.” The victory that followed-June 6, 1944- began the march to Berlin. Eighteen months later, WWII was over and one of the world’s greatest evils had been defeated.
Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection and strength-even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The reliance on prayer by the Pilgrims and by our founding fathers is well-documented. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a gift from God. As such, there was only one way to insure protection and providence: Prayer.
President Abraham Lincoln believed, “...it is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God.” When it came to the fate of the nation, he practiced what he preached. Before the battle of Gettysburg, he turned to God in prayer. “I went to my room one day and I locked the door and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.” A Union victory, Gettysburg was one of the turning points in the war.
These days, the need for prayer is as great as ever. Our nation again faces battlefields, along with an epidemic of broken homes, violence, sexual immorality and social strife. We must follow the example of the heroes of our nation's past and pray! We must declare the Father's blessing over our leaders and pray they would be granted wisdom and protection. Through prayer, we will have the fortitude to overcome the challenges at hand and break the demonic assignments unleashed against our nation. If Roosevelt, the Pilgrims and Lincoln depended on prayer, so should we. Sad to say, but our Declaration of Independence from a tyrannical government may have gone to our unified heads. As a nation, we seem to have embraced a foolish independence from our God. For that we must repent.
A common fallacy among many Christians is that those who are “Intercessors” are a special class of “super-Christians” - Prayer Warriors - called by God to a ministry of prayer on behalf of others. I don't think so. The Bible is clear that ALL Christians are called to be Intercessors. ALL Christians have the Holy Spirit dwelling within them (Rom 8:11) and, just as He intercedes for us in accordance with God’s will (Rom 8:26-27), we are to intercede for our fellow man. This is NOT a privilege limited to an exclusive Christian elite; this is God's command to ALL.
Not to take a verse out of context, but I contend that our failure to pray for others could be classified as a sin of omission (in case there are those interested in classifying sins). When the people asked the prophet Samuel to pray for them, he responded: “As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you” (1 Sam 12:23). If Samuel considered such neglect as sinful for him, how about the rest of us?
If you feel lead to pray with others on the National Day of Prayer, go ahead. I may even see you there. But I beseech you to CONTINUE THE PRACTICE every day from that day forward. The Prayer Meetin' seems to be a thing of the past in so many denominations.
I believe it's coming – the day of the Nation of Prayer. It had BETTER come! Because while many are praying for Revival, this generation has yet to be “vived.”