Celebrate The National Day of Prayer Like a Holiday
- Shawn McEvoy Editor, Christianity.com
- 2005 2 May
Multiple choice. The National Day of Prayer is:
a) When my schedule clears up
b) May 5, 2005
c) Every day
d) Sunday morning
e) Whenever the next tragedy strikes
f) All of the above
Officially, the answer is “B,” but just as Christmas and Easter aren’t the only days we should commemorate Christ’s birth and resurrection, neither is May 5 the only day we should practice fervent prayer.
That said, the comparison to our holiest days doesn’t end there. The right and ability to commune with the God of all creation is, after our salvation, the greatest privilege accorded a Christian. It’s a definite reason to party! Our direct line to the Almighty (Jeremiah 33:3 has been referred to as “God’s phone number”) can’t be taken for granted.
The National Day of Prayer press release says May 5 will be a time where "citizens of the United States [will] celebrate their freedom to gather, worship, and pray."
Why such a cause for rejoicing? How essential to the Christian walk is prayer? How necessary?
Martin Luther King Jr. said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.”
Billy Graham said, “The three most important things you can do are to pray, pray, pray!”
Former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden said, “There are many things that are essential to arriving at true peace of mind, and one of the most important is faith, which cannot be acquired without prayer.”
Contemporary Christian musicians Casting Crowns ask, “What if the family turned to Jesus, stopped asking Oprah what to do?”
King David wrote: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart,” and “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth” (Psalm 37:4 and 145:18).
The Lord Jehovah said, “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, will forgive their sins, and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
And now, in 2005, Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Max Lucado writes: "Not to us, O Lord, but to you goes all the glory. We depend on You. You give birth and breath and determine our days. We exist by Your power. We exist for Your glory... Have mercy... We are sorry... Forgive us, dear Father."
It's that father relationship that helps me view prayer as a Christmas-like celebration of gifts and thankfulness. It's our connection to the family of God. One of my favorite verses says, "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in Heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!" (Matthew 7:11).
Jesus taught us how the prayer relationship works – do it not to gain attention, without “vain repetitions,” and without having to tell God of needs which He already knows (Matthew 6:5-15). Instead, praise God, seek His will, thank Him for meeting your daily needs, ask His forgiveness and for His strength in forgiving others, and request His help in avoiding evil and temptation. When you say, “Amen,” you’re agreeing with God; saying, “So be it!” and standing in faith.
Knowing all this, go boldly before the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16 is the theme of this year's National Day of Prayer), go often, and honor the fact that you can. And don’t forget the “listening” part, which some call meditation – let God talk, too.
Faith strengthens prayer, and prayer strengthens faith. It isn’t even so much that your perceived needs get met as it is that you get to know and be known by your Creator. So even as you lift up our government, media, educational system, churches, and families, remember that it's being continually mindful of our many blessings that tends to bring about effectual, heartfelt, answered prayers.
How do I know? I’m no prayer warrior, but even my simple faith and communion with God has seen such improbable results as: a cat cured of incurable feline leukemia, a father who took 17 years to come to the Lord praying with me, a healing from depression, and, most recently, a blessed new job situation in web-based ministry.
I’m in the mood to celebrate. Anyone up for a prayer party? Cinco de Mayo, then?
Visit www.nationaldayofprayer.orgfor more information and a list of events in your area.