“If my people who are called by my name 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)
For those of us who believe in the Bible and trust its writings, we should all be “first in line” for The National Day of Prayer of this week (May 1st). In 1774, at the First Congress, The National Day of Prayer began. Since 1775, 1,259 state and federal calls for national prayer have been raised and between 1789 and 2013, 142 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving have been given by the President of the United States.
Healing is what our nation needs at this most critical time in our history. So many issues are plaguing our land: financial hurdles too tall to jump, social issues creating dissension and strife between citizens, arrogance in our leadership causing those in high positions to distort and destroy our Constitution for their own political gain. These are true signs of a troubled land, which none of us want to see get any worse.
In our nation’s history, prayer has not been taken lightly. It has had a purposeful focus in the creation and sustaining of our country and our freedoms. Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln unashamedly prayed for our country and wisdom to lead it. What will be our response to this year’s day of prayer and reflection for our nation, to God?
According to Barna, a research group who has tracked the prayer habits of adults since 1993, 84% of U.S. adults claim to have prayed in the past week. In a world where God is being excluded rather than included and those who believe in God are attacked continually, 4 out of 5 adults still pray weekly. What an amazing and encouraging number! The main stream media would have you believe no one calls on the name of God, except to curse. They would have you believe God is dead. Obviously, He is not dead!
Imagine the strength and guidance our nation could receive from God, if we harnessed the power of the 84% who regularly pray. If God was willing to bless His people before through prayer, (2 Chronicles 7:14) why are we so hesitant sometimes to ask Him now? I believe He can heal our broken, selfish, nation.
A survey done by U.S. News and Beliefnet, an internet site, asked Christians, Jews and Muslims about their prayer habits, in an online survey. Since America is historically referred to as a Christian nation, those numbers were most interesting. Seeing other faith communities’ ideas on prayer was enlightening. When asked “How often do you pray?” the groups responded as such: more than once a day – Christians: 68.1%, Jews: 36.9%, Muslims: 91.6%; once a day – Christians: 16.1%, Jews: 22%, Muslims: 3%; a few times a week – Christians: 12.1%, Jews: 27.3%, Muslims: 2.4%.
Respondents were also asked, “In the last six months, my prayers have related to…” when asked about “improving the world” – Christians: 48%, Jews: 57%, Muslims: 59%. When the survey inquired regarding respondents prayers for “The president/world leaders” – Christians: 37%, Jews: 22%, Muslims: 18%. The survey revealed, by faith, Christians’ have prayed more for God’s guidance (93%) in the past six months; Jews gave thanks (84%) the highest percentage of all possible prayers showed Muslims prayed for God’s guidance(94%) the most.
As a person of faith who prays daily, I understand the need for asking for God’s guidance and for giving thanks to God, daily. Personally, I know when I think of asking for guidance, it is for my own life and the lives of my family. Rarely do I sit in prayer, contemplating our nation’s leaders and asking God to bless them with His guidance. This survey has caused me to realize how few of us actually pray for our leaders and the fate of our country. We are still a praying nation, but why have we come to a time where we no longer pray for its well-being?
When pondering my reasons for not focusing my prayers on our nation, I have realized my approval and trust of Washington is in direct correlation to my prayers for it. The less I approve and trust in what happens there, the less I pray for those in positions of leadership.
It isn’t so much a commutative reaction of, “if you do well, you get prayed for”, but more of a “how long do we throw pearls before swine”. But is that really a legitimate choice for any of us to make? As voters, we certainly have the choice to make decisions regarding our elected officials and for those whom they appoint in other offices. However, if Christ is our example, He wasn’t picky for whom He prayed or spent time with while on earth. He ate with tax collectors, the dredges of society, and spoke with and forgave adulterers. That population is certainly represented in our government today.
So why should any of us stop praying for our government and our nation? That is why The National Day of Prayer is an incredible opportunity for us to renew our faith in our country and in what God can do in our country. It isn’t a renewing of our faith in those who are already in office, yet a renewing of our faith in our God given, God blessed land. Renewing our hope in the process of government is where our destiny lies. In a belief that the American way of living free, bound only by our Constitution, is where our exceptionalism once was and where it can be reborn. That rebirth can be achieved by prayerfully submitting our requests at the feet of God. Asking Him to renew and heal our land. To create a stirring of what He intends America to be from this time forward.
The National Day of Prayer is a freedom we should all hold dear and translate into each and every day of our lives. Prayer doesn’t have to be a burden around our neck. It can be a small, on the go whisper to God when you hear a concerning story or event, each day. A moment where we utter our request to God to heal our nation, give wisdom and humility to our leaders and to protect our shores from our enemies.
It is obvious our struggles in America have been spawned by selfish desires and egotistical behaviors, by those who once presented themselves as humble servants and now have become authoritative elitists. Maybe those of us who believe in prayer have become selfish and egotistical also. Believing there is no hope for our country. There is hope. Hope in the power of prayer.
If you have lost faith in prayer or never had a faith in prayer, science has substantiated the power of those who pray. In a San Francisco General Medical Center experiment, patients participated in a double-blind “drug” study on the “efficacy of Christian prayer on healing”. The test had a randomly divided group where patients in the test group were prayed for by Christians and the placebo group received no prayer. Statistically, there were no differences in the groups, before the study began. The study found those who were prayed for suffered “less congestive heart failure, required less diuretic and antibiotic therapy, had fewer episodes of pneumonia, had fewer cardiac arrests, and were less frequently intubated and ventilated.” (Originally published by Rich Deem, GodandScience.org)
Amazing! Science has proven that prayer has a positive effect on individuals who are sick. In the same way, prayer can heal our sick nation.
Proverbs 11:14a says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls…” 93% of what Christians are praying for is guidance; let’s make sure that is personal AND national guidance. Otherwise, our country may fall.
This National Day of Prayer, let’s not only pray during those specific twenty-four hours for our nation, let’s pray for the desire, courage and strength to pray 365 days a year for AMERICA!