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History of the National Day of Prayer The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln's proclamation of a day of "humiliation, fasting, and prayer" in 1863. He emphatically stated that "it behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess or national sins, and to pray to the God that made us!"
"It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
- Abraham Lincoln
Historical Significance of Prayer in America Lincoln's personal prayer life had a profound influence on this period of our nation's history. The year 1863 was crucial: the Civil War had already raged for two years, and the Emancipation Proclaimamtion, declaring an end to slavery in the nation, had gone into effect in January. In early July, the Battle of Gettysburg began. The stakes were igh, and both sides knew that the outcome of the battle could well determine the outcome of the war.
On the eve of that conflict, President Lincoln left a record of his appeal to God: "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 Gettsburg. I then and there made a solemn vow to Almighty God that if He would stand by our boys at Gettysburg, I would stand by Him. Soon a sweet comfort crept into my soul that God Almighty had taken the whole business into His own hands and that things would go alright at Gettysburg."
But not even Lincoln understood how powerfully God would answer his prayer. Colonel Joshua Chamberlain described the event in his report to the War Department:
"Our lines began to break before the overwhelming number of Rebel soldiers. Our guns let loose, but the enemy kept coming. We had to defend that hill. To lose Little Round Top would have been to lose everything.
Then a terrible thing happened: we ran out of ammunition. I thought we would have to pull back. [Then] out of nowhere rode a tall figure on a shining white horse. Now I know this is incredible, but the rider was dressed as a Revolutionary general and the face - I will swear it was the face of George Washington! He raised his arm high and gave the signal to advance. My men began to shout and cheer. The rebels saw it, too, and they began to shout at it. The figure road back and forth and the Confederate guns followed it. He should have been killed a thousand times over. No human being could have survived that fire. The rider urged our men on and raising their bayonets, they charged down the hill on top of the Rebels. The bayonet charge must have taken them by surprise for they turned and fled. We alost lost Little Round Top, and if we had, we would have lost Gettysburg." (From The Incredible Power of Prayer video, Vol. 2, Group Productions, Loveland, CO, 1997.)
Prayer resulted in God's protection for the Union army at Gettysburg, just as it did for Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah. Stories such as these pointed future American leaders to the Lord - not as a last resort, but as a first response.
The life of every citizen of every nation is impacted by a vast multitude of individuals who wield significant influence each day. Consider: mllions of elected officials, apointed judges, lawyers, police officers, bureaucrats, military officers business executives and managers, those involved in church leadership, educators, medical practitioners and hospital administrators. How might we pray for these individuals? Here are 30 things based on Scripture that we pray for people in authority. Don't overwhelm yourself. Select one person or group of people and then pray one of these things each day for them.
30 Ways To Pray For People In Authority by Gary P. Bergel That they be God fearing and recognize that they are accountable to Him for each decision and act (Prov. 9:10).
That they be granted wisdom, knowledge, and understanding (Jas. 1:5).
That they be presented with the gospel and a loving Christian witness (Ro. 10:14).
That, if unsaved, they be drawn to a saving encounter with Christ; if born-again, they be strengthened and encouraged in their faith (1 Tim. 2:4; Eph. 1:17-23).
That they recognize their own inadequacy and pray and seek the will of God (Prov. 3:5-8, Lk. 11:9-13).
That they be convicted of sin, transgression, and iniquity (Ps. 51:17, Jn. 8:9).
That they heed their conscience, confess their sins, and repent (Prov. 28:13, Jas. 4:8).
That they read the Bible and attend prayer meetings and Bible studies (Ps. 119:11, Col. 3:2).
That they value and regard the Ten Commandments and the teachings of Christ (Ps. 19:7-11, Jn. 8:31-32).
That they respect and honor their own parents if living (Eph. 6:2-3).
That they respect authority and practice accountability (Ro. 13:1-7).
That they be given godly counsel and God-fearing advisors (Prov. 24:6).
That they be honest and faithful to spouses and children (Mal. 2:15-16).
That they be practicing members of local congregations (Heb. 10:25).
That they desire purity and avoid debauchery, pornography, perversion, and drunkenness (1 Cor. 6:9-20, Titus 2:12).
That they be timely, reliable, and dependable (Mt. 21:28-31).
That they be honest in financial, tax, and ethical matters (1 Co. 6:1, 1 Tim. 6:6-10).
That they seek pastoral care and counsel when needed (Heb. 13:7).
That they seek out and nuture godly friendships (Ps. 1:1-3).
That they have thankful and teachable spirits (Ro. 1:21).
That they be generous and compassionate hearts for the poor and needy (Ps. 112:9, Lk. 10:33-37).
That they redeem their time and know priorities (Eph. 5:15-17).
That they desire honesty, integrity and loyalty (Psalm 26, Prov. 11:3).
That they have courage to resist manipulation, pressure, and the fear of man (Prov. 29:25, 2 Tim. 1:7).
That they be shielded from occultism, New Age cults, false religions, and secret societies (Is. 1:29, 2:6).
That they be presented with biblical worldviews and principles (Eph. 3:10).
That they endeavor to restore the sanctity of life, families, dine order, and morality in our nation (Eph. 5:22-6:4).
That they would work to reverse the trends of humanism in our nation (1 Chron. 12:32, Is. 59:19).
That they desire humility and meekness and be willing to serve and cooperate (Jn. 13:14, Titus 3:1-2).
That they be prepared to give account to Almighty God (Heb. 9:27).
Adapted from "Intercessors for America" newsletter, (Vol. 22, No. 3). Used by permission of Intercessors for America, 1-800-USA PRAY; www.ifa-usapray.org. Excerpted from Pray! Magazine Issue #13. 1-800-691-PRAY WWW.PRAYMAG.COM.
Why Pray For The Nation? The Impact Of Personal Prayer On America
"The times are dark, the spirits of ruin are abroad in all their power, and the mercy of God alone can save us." Although Abraham Lincoln spoke these words in 1862, they apply to America today. As we watch our society decay spiritually and morally, many of us can't help asking, "Is there hope for America?"
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief:
Our nation was safe. Or so it seemed. Even though we still have conflicts with other nations, the greatest threat to America today is from within our boarders. We have forgotten our spiritual heritage and have neglected the God who graciously and often miraculously guided our nation and its leaders through difficulties.
If that is so, then why pray for our nation and its leaders now? Isn't America beyond help? Can our prayers really alter the course of America? The answer is yes.
1) The primary reason we are to pray for our nation and its leaders is because God, in His Word, commands us to. In 1 Timothy 2:1-3, the apostle Paul urged believers to lift up "requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving" for everyone, especially for "kings and all those in authority." Keep in mind that when Paul wrote this letter, the Christian church was suffering severe persecution under the rule of Nero. Still, Paul did not instruct believers to curse Nero, but to pray for him and others in authority.
The Bible tells us that all authority figures and government leaders ultimately are in power by the will of God (Romans 13:1-8). Certainly there are instances when we are to "obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), particularly if we are told to act in a way that directly violates our beliefs as Christians. But this does not nullify the mandate to pray for our leaders. They do not hold their positions by chance; they are allowed by God, in His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, to be in authority. We, in turn, are called by God to support them with our prayers.
2) Another reason we are to prayer for our nation and leaders is that God answers the prayers of His people. Second Chronicles 7:14, though a familiar verse, beard repeating: "If my people, who are called by me name, will 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."
How can the Lord answer our prayers if we have no prayers to offer? If, as God's people, we will not interceed for our nation, then there is no reason for Him to withhold His judgement.
3) Our leaders are under tremendous pressure.
Each day they face numerous tasks and decisions, and they are expected to choose wisely and govern well. With so many burdens to carry and decisions to make, it is often difficult to approach legislation and other matters with a clear head. Our leaders need our prayers and they need to know they are being supported in prayer.
4) Moreover, by taking time to pray for our nation and its leaders, believers will be enriched in their own prayer lives. In coming before the Lord on behalf of our nation with true humility and repentance, we begin to experience a strengthening of our relationship wth God.
Prayer, in essence, is conversation with God. It is one of the most important ways we can spend time with God, and He will reward our desire to seek His face.
5) Finally, Paul presented another reason to pray for our leaders and nation, again back in 1 Timothy 2: "that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness" (v. 2). This reason is simple enough. By praying for our nation's leaders, we are expressing faith in God to guide their decisions as they implement policies that affect our society. Godly decisions will lead to godly laws and peaceful living conditions.
These are some of the reasons we should pray for our nation and its leaders. They are not selfish reasons, but are rooted in God's Word. We are in a battle for the heart and soul of America. It is no accident that believers are referred to as "soldiers" in the Bible. We are at war - not with another nation, but with ourselves and against "spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12). Soldiers not only defend their positions, but, when commanded, take the offensive. It is time we took the offensive by praying for our nation.
What Happens When We Pray For Our Nation? Now that we understand why we are to pray for our nation, it's important that we look at what may result from our supplications. In order to better comprehend this, we will look at biblical examples, historical accounts of God working in America and contemporary stories of the power of prayer.
Biblical Examples If My People...
"If my peole, who are called by my name, will 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
The setting for this familiar verse is the dedication of the new temple, a structure that took seven years to complete. When King Solomon began the ceremony with a powerful prayer, he "stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel... then knelt before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven." The prayer time (2 Chronicles 6:12-42) reveals the depth of Solomon's commitent to the Lord at the time. (Sadly, Solomon would later fall into apostasy through the many political alliances he formed by marriage into the royal families of pagan nations [1 Kings 11:1-4]).
Later that evening, after the temple was dedicated, God appeared to the king and, among other admonitions, made the conditional promise concerning Israel that we read in 2 Chronicles 7:14.
In that verse, God identified four actions that His people need to take for Him to heal their land:
*Seeking the Lord.
If the people met these conditions, the Lord said, then He would "hear from heaven "and would forgive their sin" and "heal their land."
In verses 19 and 20, we find the consequences that would result of Israel did not continue to follow the Lord: "But if you turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples."
Although the Lord first spoke the words we find in 2 Chronicles 7:14 for the benefit of Isreal, the principles remain true today. If the church, God's people, will not humble itself, pray, see the Lord and repent, judgement from the Lord will surely result.
In addition, those who lead our country should set a moral example for people to follow. Solomon was held accountable for his leadership of Israel, and so are leaders today. If "we the people" elect and support leaders who pursue and promote unrighteousness, the consequences for our nation will be severe.
Stand Before Me in the Gap "I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none." - Ezekiel 22:30
Ezekiel began his service as a prophet to God's people during a grim era in Judah's history. In 593 B.C., the army of the Babylonian Empire was preparing to attack Jerusalem, and Ezekiel forsaw the siege and the fall of the great city. Soon, he and thousands of other Judeans would be taken to Babylon in exile.
Tragically, the Lord holds the leaders and the people of Jerusalem directly responsible for their plight: the princes, priests, officials, prophets and people are all responsible for coming judgement (verses 25-28).
In that context, the Lord's words in Ezekiel 22:30 are even more poignant, for if God could have found just one righteous person to interceed for the nation, then judgement could have been avoided.
But, someone may ask, what about another passage in an earlier chapter of Ezekiel that seems to teach a different lesson:
Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals, even if these three men - Noah, Daniel and Job - were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, decares the Sovereign Lord (Ezekiel 14:13-14).
Do these verses contradict Ezekiel 22:30? No, because, as scholars note, the context of Ezekiel 22:23-30 refers to the leaders of the nation. God was looking for a righteous leader, someone who could call the people to true repentance. If such a leader would stand in the gap on behalf of the land, the Lord would not need to destroy the nation. This passage, then, should drive us to our knees for righteous leadership!
God Spares Ninevah Recall that God chose to spare Ninevah based on the response of its citizens to Jonah's message.
Scripture makes it clear that "the Ninevites believed God" to the point of declaring a fast. The king went so far as to issue a proclamation about the fast by informing the citizens to "call urgently on God" and to give up "their evil ways and their violence." "Who knows?" proclaimed the king, "God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish" (Jonah 3:8-9). What an amazing proclamation!
And yet, the king's profound message could be summed up in one word: Repent! This simple word and the action it represents is the key to releasing God's compassion. From Moses to
Jonah to John the Baptist to our Lord Jesus Christ, this message has not changed.
Let us not be fooled into thinking that this kind of repentance - national repentance - is easily accompished. We must return to God with all our heart, and with "fasting and weeping and mourning" (Joel 2:12-13). And as we have already seen, repentance must be accompanied by humility and prayer (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Only through the power of prayer - individual and corporate prayer - will our nation return to God and be healed of its ills.
Let us not forget how God responded to the people of Ninevah: "When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened" (Jonah 3:10).
Historical Examples Biblical values and prayer have always been an important part of our national heritage:
* In 1776, the Continental Congress called for a day of prayer. The members believed that "by sincere repentance and amendment of life," they might "appease God's righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain this pardon and forgiveness."
* In 1952, President Harry Truman signed a joint resolution of Congress, establishing an annual national day of prayer. The President did not hesitate to declare that the first annual observance of this significant holiday should fall on the nation's birthday:
Now, therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim Friday, July 4, 1952, as a National Day of Prayer, on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly. May we give thanks to Him for His constant watchfulness over us in every hour of national prosperity and national peril.
How has God responded to the prayers of Americans through the years? Often He has used the familiar to answer, but at other times He has responded in extraordinary, even miraculous ways.
The Persian Gulf War Some look back at accounts from the past when men prayed and God acted and wonder if God still moves today. A true story from the Persian Gulf conflict can answer that question.
As American military personnel prepared for Operation Desert Storm, Marine Major General Charles Krulak was responsible for providing supplies to the U.S. military units that were moving into position for a frontal assault on Iraq's army. The threat of chemical warfare called for water for decontamination purposes - and Krulak had plenty. He and his men had wells that pumped 100,000 gallons per day.
Then Krulak was ordered to move his base of operations 74 miles northwest, to an area called Gravel Plains. Attempts to drill for water produced nothing but dust. Experts, including American engineers and native Bedouins, were quickly called in. Still nothing, and the day for ground attack was drawing near.
Since 1977, it was Krulak's custom to meet with his staff officers for morning prayers. One Sunday morning in early 1991, the critical need for water was the main subject of their petitions. Then one of Krulak's men interrupted, insisting the commander come out to see something. He led General Krulak down a road recently constructed by the Marine Corps.
What they saw mystified them. A pipe stuck up from what appeared to be a water well - just 50 yards off the new road. At the base of the well was a green diesel generator, a red pump and four new batteries. The fuel tank was filled with 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel - but of a type not used by American forces.
Krulak pushed the ignition button, and the generator jumped to life and began pumping water - almost exactly the 100,000 gallons per day the soldiers needed!
Major General Krulak and 20,000 troops had traveled that road, but none had seen that pump until after prayers that Sunday morning.
Krulak testified, "There is no way anyone could have driven down that road and not seen that well with its equipment painted in mutiple colors. That well was the result of prayers of neighbors - men and women - praying in America... and the miracles didn't end with finding that well."
Major General Krulak is right: The miracles of God did not end there. This wasn't a matter of asking God to take sides. It was a matter of asking God to take charge.
We have the same opportunity in our situaions. If we will take the time to look around, we will see His mercies are new every morning. When a wayward son comes to the Lord... when a man hears the doctor say, "We looked, but can't find a trace of cancer in your body" ... when a well appears when needed most. Prayer causes God to move.
(From The Incredible Power of Prayer video, Vol. 2, Group Productions, Loveland, CO, 1997.)
Can Prayer Heal Our Land? Scripture is clear in teaching that our prayers can make a difference in society. Why else would the apostle Paul command that prayers and intercessions be made "for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peacable life in all godliness and reverence" (1 Timothy 2:1-4)?
Obviously, it isn't enough to pray only about our private concerns. If we are to live as genuine disciples of the Lord Jesus, to shine as lights for Him in a dark world, our prayer horizons must expand far beyond our own needs, our own families, our own churches or even our own communities.
The "powers that be" that Paul describes in Romans 13:1 - our government officials - desperately need our spiritual support. That support is a key ingredient of the "submission" to which Paul refers: "Everyone must submit to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God" (v. 1). The governing authorities may not always make the best decisions, but they are in place by the will of God. Thus, they need and warrant our prayer support, because their decisions help shape the moral character of our nation.
God is big enough to take care of national and international affairs without our help, of course.
So why pray at all? As C.S. Lewis asked, "Can we believe that God really ever really modifies His action in response to the suggestions of men? For infinite wisdom does not need telling what is best, and infinite goodness needs no urging to do it" ("The Efficacy of Prayer").
But that is part of the wonder, the mystery of our relationship with Him: God has chosen us to co-operate with Him in the work of redemption and reconciliation in the world. As the seventeenth-century French philosopher Blaise Pascal said (quoted by Lewis in the same essay), "God instituted prayer in order to lend to His creatures the dignity of causality." God has chosen to grant us the honor of participating in His works!
If you think the task of praying for an entire nation is too great, take comfort - you're not alone!
Moses had a similar reaction when the Lord confronted him at the burning bush with the needs of his own people. "Who am I," asked the great hero of faith, "that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?" (Exodus 3:11).
Likewise, we ask, "Who are we that we should help to bring about the healing of a nation through our prayers?" It's a question worth asking. More than that, it's a question we must ask, a question to which we must find an adequate and compelling answer.
The fact is, Jesus called his followers "the salt of the earth" and the "light of the world" (Matthew 5:13-14). Without light, how great will be the darkness in the land where God has called us to shine for Jesus Christ!
But does prayer make a difference? Are there any examples to encourage us? Consider the plight of the enslaved Israelites. Here was a nation oppressed, groaning under the dominion of pagan Egypt. The Hebrew slaves had no rights, no voice, no power whatsoever. What recourse did they have but prayer? And pray they did - so fervently that the Lord told Moses that "the cry of the Israelites has reached me" (Exodus 3:9). God heard their prayers and responded in miraculous ways, even parting the Red Sea to provide a way of escape for His people. Prayer is powerful, because God responds to the cries, the petitions and the praises of His people.
How Can We Participate? What should be our response? What steps can we take as we pray for the healing of our nation?
First, we need to make certain that we come before God on His own terms. We must approach Him in sincere reverence, awe and humility.
Remember the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If my people...will humble themselves..." Thus, we must examine our own spiritual condition before taking on the task of supporting the nation in prayer. Is there unconfessed sin in our lives? Are our motives pure?
Second, we need to pray thughtfully and sincerely. Jesus warned against the dangers of hypocrisy and of mindless, repetitive prayers (Matthew 6:5-8).
Third, we must continue cultivating a rich prayer life as individuals and in our families. If we are not concerned with our own prayer life, how can we expect God to take our prayers for the nation seriously?
Finally, let's begin to pray for our nation regularly.
As disciples of Jesus, we have received an awesome calling and a tremendous responsibility, the privilege of becoming co-workers with God.
When we consistently and intentionally pray for our nation and our leaders - be it daily or weekly - we can begin to experience the joy of participating in the healing of our land.
We can take specific actions that will keep this important command in mind and prompt others to do the same:
Participate in the National Day of Prayer, observed each year on the first Thursday of May.
Tell our leaders we are praying for them by sending cards or joining the efforts of the Adopt -A-Leader program.
Encourage our ministers to preach about praying for our leaders and the nation - and to pray for them publicly in worship services and other gatherings. (Sermon outlines are available from the National Day of Prayer Task Force.)
Host a Sunday school class featuring The Incredible power of Prayer video series (Group Productions, loveland, Colorado).
When we pray for our communities, our nation and our leaders, we are part of a struggle that is "not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" (Ephesians 6:12).
Together, we can make a difference. Our prayers can change America for the better.
National Day of Prayer Task Force
P.O. Box 15616, Colorado Springs, CO 80935-5616
Copyright 1999, National Day of Prayer Task Force.
All Rights Reserved. International Copyright Secured.
The Historical Significance of the National Day of Prayer an American Tradition Civic prayers and national days of prayer have a long and venerable history in our constitutional republic, dating back to the Continental Congress in 1775. The first call to national prayer, requested by the Continental Congress, actually predates the Constitution.
History of Prayer and the Church/State Issue Our first statement of national purpose and identity, The Declaration of Independence, cites "the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" as the foundation of the United States of America. The declaration asserts that people have inalienable rights that are God-given. Based on this belief, these rights are not given by government, but are government's duty to protect.
A preeminent position to the right of the "free exercise . . . of religion" came with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing the protection of religious expression from government infringement. This amendment prohibited government from making any law concerning the establishment of religion, or "prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . "
In His (Virginia) Bill for Establishing Religious Liberty, Thomas Jefferson wrote that a person's religious beliefs do not disqualify him from holding public office. He also asserted that "all men shall be free to profess their opinion in matters of religion" without negatively affecting their standing in the government.
Iin his 1802 letter to a Conecticut religious association, President Jefferson termed the First Amendment a "wall of separartion between church and state," informing the religious group that the government could not interfere in their association. Jefferson stated in this letter that he was "convinced that a man's natural right" to religious expression is not in opposition to his political function, or "social duties." James Madison agreed in 1785, when he stated, " . . . in matters of religion, no man's right is abridged by the institution of civil society."
Consequently, for the founders of our nation, the freedom to express religious opinion and exercise religion was for all citizens, and could not be limited based on one's position, whether the person be a government official, teacher, parent or an attorney. All people are free to profess their religious beliefs without governmental interference or prohibition.
The Jeffersonian separation between church and state, understood in support of the Declaration of Independence, means only that a church and the civil government are separate and distinct institutions. It does not mean government must be hostile toward religion or seek to eliminate religious content from public forums. This wall of separation, used by the Supreme Court for the first time in Everson vs. Board of Education (1947), was summarized by the court as meaning that "neither a state nor the federal government can set up a church."
National Day of Prayer Task Force Since the founding of the country, prayer has been an integral part of our history and heritage.
Since Washington's prayers for an infant nation and Jefferson's assertion that the new government should separate itself from infringing its laws on religious freedoms, prayer has knitted a divine strength into the fabric of America.
Firmly rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the NDP Task Force seeks to promote an awareness of prayer, not only on this significant event, but on an ongoing basis. The first Thursday in May is a significant day when Americans lay aside differences and join hearts in acknowledging God.
As a nation, we come together to humble ourselves and turn to the Lord on behalf of our country, knowing that it is in Him we trust, not ourselves, and it is through our prayers that we rely on Him to face the many issues that have no other answers but in Him.
Statement of Purpose The National Day of Prayer (NDP) is an annual observance, mandated by Congress on the first Thursday of each May. The NDP exists to underscore the importance of prayer for the nation and its leadership, and encourages all Americans to pray for God's blessings.
The National Day of Payer Task Force is a Christian expression of the NDP, which correspondingly recognizes the right and privilege of all faiths to pray in keeping with their particular traditions and teachings.
Every effort is made to provide resources for any religious or community group that wishes to plan and attend an observance. The Task Force will accomplish this goal by:
Recruiting Christian state, regional and city coordinators and other volunteers to plan and facilitate local events.
Hosting an annual Coordinators' Conference to better equip volunteers.
Providing materials and ideas in support of the coordinators and other interested Christians promoting the event.
Coordinating a national media campaign leading up to the NDP.
Planning and leading Judeo-Christian events in Washington, D.C. on the first Thursday in May, along with America's National Prayer Committee, guiding the nation in prayer.
Carrying on other activities which focus the attention of every citizen on the need for intercessory prayer for our nation and its leaders.
Reminding ourselves and all Americans of our complete dependence upon God's power, strength, and favor for spiritual renewal and continued success as a nation.
Funding The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a project of the National Prayer Committee Inc. with a 501 (C) (3) status. We rely on individual donations, foundation support and the sales of support resources to our constituents. We receive no federal funds.
Statistics U.S. population estimate: 267,954,764 (July 1997, CIA World Fact Book)
Protestantism and Roman Catholicism in the U.S.
Fifty-six percent of U.S. population are Protestant, while 28 percent are Roman Catholic. This means that 84 percent of Americans consider themselves Christian. (1997 CIA World Fact Book)
Beliefs about God
Ninety-six percent of Americans believe in God, but only 69 percent difine God as the "all-powerful, all-knowing, perfect creator of the universe who rules the world today." (Barna Research Group report "Data and Trends," downloaded August 1998)
Only .3 percent of Americans are atheists. (1998 Britannica Book of the Year)
Statistical data listed below obtained from Virtual America by George Barna (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 1994)
Evangelicals and Born Again Christians
Only six percent of Americans can be considered evangelical Christians (there are 12 million evangelical adults). This six percent figure has slipped from 12 percent over the course of the past six years. (Barna Research Group report "Data and Trends," downloaded August 1998)
Forty-three percent of adults and 34 percent of teenagers are "born again."
Barna definitions of born again and evangelical:
Born again Christian: "We do not classify a person as 'born agai' if they say they are so. They are classified as such based on their response to two questions about their beliefs. The first enables them to indicate they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today. The second question asks about the afterlife; a born again Christian would say that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior."
Evangelicals: "In our surveys, we do not ask people to define themselves as an 'evangelical.'
We categorize an individual as an evangelical based upon their answers to nine questions about faith matters. Those included in this segment meet the criteria for being born again, as described above, say their faith is very important in their life today; believe they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with nn-Christians; believe that Satan exists; believe that eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works; believe that Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and describe God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect diety Who created the universe and still rules it today.
Thus, evangelicals are a subset of the born again population. Notice that being an evangelical has no relationship to church attendance or the denominational affiliation of the church with which they associate." (Barna Research Group report "Data and Trends," downloaded August 1998)
"Almost every measure of religious behavior we have available is currently at, or near, its low point for the past decade. This includes church attendance, Bible reading, adult Sunday school attendance and small group participation." (George Barna, Virtual America, Regal Books, 1994)
Church attendance has dropped from 48 percent of "adults who attended a religious service in the past week" to 42 percent in 1994. (George Barna, Virtual America, 1994 Regal Books)
National Day of Prayer Task Force
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(719) 531-3379 www.ndptf.org
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