Faith leaders and government officials called on Americans to unite in prayer May 4, designated as the country’s National Day of Prayer. Created in 1952, the day dedicated to prayer has been held on the first Thursday in May for 35 years.
Across the country, intercessors gathered to pray at state capitols, city halls, courthouses, police stations and parks. On its website, the National Day of Prayer Task Force provided prayer prompts focused on seven centers of influence: government, military, media, business, education, church and family.
Leading up to the National Day of Prayer, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee also created a prayer guide focused on this year’s key Scripture: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect” (James 5:16 CSB).
The day will conclude with a National Prayer Gathering livestreamed at nationaldayofprayer.org and broadcast on Christian radio and television stations. The gathering at 8p.m. Eastern time will include Jack Graham, senior pastor of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and a past president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Graham has also served as honorary chairman of the National Day of Prayer.
Power in praying together
In a video posted on Twitter, Graham noted it’s important to pray every day as individuals, but also that there is power in praying together.
“And so a day like this, in which American Christians, believers and followers of Jesus Christ, are praying together, is very, very important, as we lock arms and get on our knees together and ask God for revival in our nation, spiritual awakening in the church,” Graham said.
Throughout the day, Southern Baptists and other leaders with SBC ties used social media to urge people to pray.
Bryant Wright, president of Send Relief and a past SBC president, referred to a March 3 shooting in Atlanta in his call to prayer on Twitter.
“A reminder of so much evil and chaos in our land,” Wright said. “We need God! We need a ground swell of people turning back to God. Jesus, shows us the Way. Pray for our nation today.”
Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., posted a video urging prayer amid several challenges facing the country, including anger, fear and concern about the future.
“None of these issues are bigger than God. God is the one who can speak into each heart and each life and each place far beyond what any of us can do. And we need His help,” Lankford said. “Today, let’s ask God to do what only He can do to be able to heal our nation, and to redirect our lives and our families.”
Making prayer a priority
Franklin Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, quoted his father, late evangelist Billy Graham, in calling Americans to pray.
“As a nation we have turned our back on God and His Word, and we are seeing the results,” Graham tweeted. “Violence, crime and suicide are rampant. As Christians, we need to be more intentional than ever about PRAYER. The Bible instructs us to make prayer a priority. Pray for our leaders — from the president, to those serving in Congress, to those in leadership at the state and local level — that God would give them wisdom, guide them, and have mercy on our nation.
“My father @BillyGraham once said, ‘Prayer is the Christian’s greatest weapon.’ On this National Day of Prayer — and every day — let’s stop and seek God.”
Evangelist Greg Laurie urged prayer for a new wave of revival. The recently released movie “Jesus Revolution” chronicled Laurie’s own spiritual journey during the Jesus movement of the 1970s.
“We are desperately in need of a spiritual awakening,” he tweeted. “It seems we have strayed so far from God’s plan, and we are reaping the consequences. But things can change, as we pray for our nation and share our faith.”
Richard Blackaby, president of Blackaby Ministries International and a frequent speaker and writer on prayer, noted the power of prayer to bring about spiritual awakening.
“God declared it was not earnest complaining, or working, that brought revival, but PRAYER,” Blackaby tweeted. “May we do so today.”