Four days ago, the United States honored a National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. This day of observance, designated by the United States Congress, asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”
For many, prayer is an integral part of daily life. Prayer offers a rich connection to our spiritual lives, nurturing our relationships and faith. It also provides comfort in times of crisis or need.
People of many different faiths join in prayer on this day. While some will attend the church, synagogue, mosque, temple or monasteries of their choice to pray, others will attend interdenominational prayer events. Some will join prayer groups or meditate. Many will post their thoughts and reflections on social media.
In the early 1950s, an evangelical movement called for Congress and the President to proclaim a National Day of Prayer. The movement grew and a young leader, you might have heard of him, evangelist Billy Graham, led services for approximately 20,000 on the steps of the Capitol on February 3, 1952. Later that year, Congress proclaimed a joint resolution for a National Day of Prayer. President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a National Day of Prayer to be observed on July 4, 1952. Each year since that date, Americans have observed the day in their own way. The observance moved to the first Thursday in May by President Ronald Reagan and has been proclaimed each year since.
As a Nation, presidents and government officials have called for national days of prayer or thanks intermittently since before the country’s existence. Here are just a few dates that come to mind:
July 20, 1775 – The Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be observed.
In 1795 – George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.
May 9, 1798 – John Adams declared this day as “a day of solemn humility, fasting, and prayer.”
March 1863 – On March 3, Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional resolution, during the Civil War, which called for April 30, 1863, as a day of fasting and prayer.
Throughout our country’s history, there has been a connection with prayer and country. For nearly every monumental occasion, accomplishment, critical decision, and national crises, our country has turned to prayer. We as a Nation, vow to keep God close to our hearts, our culture, our legislators, and all of our People, equally and freely.
But why do we need a National Day of Prayer to honor God and to ask for His divine guidance, comfort, and support? Shouldn’t prayer be a daily activity in which we honor, speak to, and enter into a relationship with God?
Jesus tells us that it is essential for our growth and development to spend time praying and reading God’s Word. God provided all of the tools necessary to live a Christian life and to learn about Him; it is the responsibility of all of us to utilize those tools. Going to church and listening to a sermon is a good step for a life filled with personal Bible study and prayer time, but it should never be the only source for our spiritual growth.
Just as a person, plant, or animal, will die without proper nourishment, so too will a meaningful life wither, without the nourishment that God provides by reading the Bible and having quiet times in prayer with, Him. Jesus gave us many living examples of this truth by making prayer a priority in His own life. See Mark 1:35 and 6:46 where Mark tells us of Jesus actions; “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Mark 6:46; “After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.” and Luke also tells us the same about Jesus 5:16; “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Luke 6:12; “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.”
Many tools are available to help you begin a path through the Bible. I honestly feel the YouVersion Bible app is the best Bible study aid available. It is a free version you can access on your home computer, laptop, tablet, or even your smart phone. What I like most about it is you can select any Bible version you wish from King James, to New Living Translation, American Standard, or every version that exists. A good place to start is in the book of Romans and the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John).
You can begin a prayer life in much the same way. A good idea is to commit to a Bible study time. Open your Bible study time with prayer, asking God to reveal himself to you through the versus you read that day. Then, when you are finished reading, pray about what you read, asking God to help you apply it to your own life. You can then spend some time, even just a few minutes, praying for other people in your life. Your prayer time will eventually grow as you become more intimate and personal with the Lord.
Many people do a one-year Bible study, which allows you to read short versus every day, and in one year, you will have completed the Bible. YouVersion has some really good Bible study options including the one-year plans.
You can use all these tools but the key is to pray when your heart or head moves you. Prayer when you want to speak to God. Pray when you need help and guidance, and prayer for others who need strength or comfort. You don’t need a National Day of Prayer to speak to God. You don’t have to be perfect to pray. You don’t have to speak eloquently or smooth like a minister, you just have to want to speak to God. So many people say; “I don’t know how to pray.” If you can speak, you can pray…God wants to hear from you, he doesn’t care if you pray like Billy Graham or Porky Pig. God loves you and He wants to speak with you…all you have to do is start the conversation – through prayer!
For more information on National Day of Prayer visit the website nationaldayofprayer.org….OR BETTER YET…Visit the YouVersion Bible App at this link: https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/
*Thank you to https://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-day-of-prayer-first-thursday-in-may/ for some of this content.