National days of prayer have been held since 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized a special day to ask for God’s guidance for the emerging nation. Presidents from Washington to Madison to Lincoln regularly called upon Americans to petition God in order to gain divine wisdom to meet various challenges and crises impacting the country.
During the Second World War, President Franklin D. Roosevelt implored Americans to pray on D-Day, the same day that allied forces began their assault on Europe. In recent years presidents from Carter to Clinton to Bush have asked for God’s favor in helping to lead our nation.
The climate in Washington, DC today is far different from what we’ve seen in the past, with our nation’s leaders indifferent or even hostile to spiritual matters. The Obama administration is no longer offering Israel the assurance that we have that nation’s back with some saying that he is playing the mideast game all wrong. Christians need only observe the president’s unbiblical actions on abortion, homosexual marriage and other matters as reasons why intercession is needed now more than ever.
This past weekend President Obama met with Rev. Billy Graham, long recognized by many as this nation’s evangelist. During that meeting, Graham gave the president two Bibles—one for the president, the only for his wife. Graham has always tried to stay above the political realm when meeting with presidents, something he endeavored to do with Obama. Let’s pray that the Obamas will read their Bibles, ask for God’s guidance in their own lives and follow Him.
The first Thursday in the month of May has been designated as the National Day of Prayer, an event where people of any belief and background may call upon God to intercede on behalf of our nation. This year marks the 59th observance of an event created through a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declaring an annual, national day of prayer. Every year since 1975, the president has called for a national day of prayer with every president since 1952 offering a proclamation to pray.
Jim Daly, CEO and President of Focus on the Family, recently shared on the Washington Post’s “On Faith” blog that a Wisconsin judge struck down the constitutionality of the National Day of Prayer. U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled that a federal endorsement of the day somehow violates the “Establishment Clause” of the First Amendment. Crabb’s decision is being appealed, but I like what Daly suggested that Christians do: pray for those who oppose what we are doing, just like what the apostles did in Acts 4.
Daly went on to say, “Now is the time for Christians, like those of the early church, to be strong and confident, not bitter or embattled.” I like his advice because the easy thing to do is to take up arms when the only right thing to do is to offer up prayers of intercession.
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