Today marks the annual National Day of Prayer. Our nation has a long history of declaring days of prayer. From its earliest colonists petitioning the Almighty for protection to President George W. Bush declaring a day following the terrorist attacks on 9/11 to “pray for healing and for the strength to serve and encourage one another in hope and faith.” He encouraged all Americans to honor “the memory of the thousands of victims of these brutal attacks and comforting those who lost loved ones” through prayer.
Congress passed a joint resolution in 1955 for the President to annually proclaim a National Day of Prayer. In 1988, an amendment was passed and signed by President Reagan that declared the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer each year.
Our nation has relied on prayer throughout its history. Here are three ways to pray for our nation.
Pray for Leaders
“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” – 1 Timothy 2:1-5
God wants us to pray for “kings, and for all that are in authority.” This includes our civil leaders at all levels. I encourage you to create a list of our President and his Cabinet, your Congressional representatives in the House and Senate, your Governor and state representatives as well as county and city leaders; and to pray over that list. These are the people that make decisions that determine the direction for our society. We need God to guide them as they make these decisions. Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.” No matter who is in office, God is in control. Pray that our leaders would have God’s wisdom and “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.”
“And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the Lord for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.” – Jeremiah 29:7
Pray for Churches
“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus.” –Acts 17:2-7 (emphasis added)
There is a saying: “You cannot legislate morality.” I believe that this is true because morality and virtue do not come from the state house but from God’s house. Our churches set the tone for our nation. In Acts 17, when Paul preached the Gospel and “reasoned with them out of the Scriptures” in Thessalonica, many people were saved. This infuriated the Jews who began to riot and brought some of those who helped Paul and Silas before the City leaders and claimed that they had “turned the world upside down.” What a great testimony to the power of the Gospel. We should pray for our Pastors and our churches that we would share the Gospel and turn the world upside down. The Holy Spirit is the one that truly changes lives, not the government. If the church is able to reach more and more people with the Gospel, there would be more Christians to vote for Biblical values and more Christians to run for government office. This is how we can have the greatest impact in our nation-through the power of the Holy Spirit and the Gospel.
Pray for Ourselves
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
In our constitutional-republic, the power comes from the people. Our Constitution begins “We the People.” This is a major responsibility. The fate of our nation rests on you. I was once challenged with a question: “If everyone in the world acted just like you, what would our society be like?” As the individuals go, so go the nation. How are you doing? God wants to transform our lives, but we have to seek him. Our prayer should be for ourselves. Pray that we would humble ourselves and turn from my wickedness and draw nearer to God. We the People make up the nation. If the people are sinful, so will the nation. If the people follow God, so will the nation. Pray for yourself.
On this National Day of Prayer, may we remember to pray for our leaders, pray for our churches, and pray for ourselves. Then tomorrow, may we continue to pray. Prayer should not be relegated to one day a year. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 commands us to “Pray without ceasing.” May today be the start to a very long conversation with God. Our nation depends on it.
Matthew Brown is a law student at the University of Akron School of Law. He has a passion for religious liberty and constitutional law and a desire to see the nation strengthened through strong Christian churches, Christian families, and Christian individuals. You can connect with him on Twitter at @MattBrown1575.
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 Bush, George W. National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims Of the Terrorist Attacks on September 11, 2001. 13 September 2011. Web. 5 May 2017. <https://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010913-7.html>.