The National Day of Prayer 2003 is right around the corner! For many of you, Thursday, May 1, will mark the culmination of many long weeks and months of hard work. You have spent countless hours contacting local officials, coordinating with churches, planning prayer gatherings, making phone calls, and generally "spreading the word" about NDP. In a few weeks, your tireless efforts will pay off as men, women, and children from coast to coast join together to lift our nation and its leaders before the Lord in prayer.

 

This time of year is incredibly hectic for those of us in the NDP Task Force office, as well. In fact, as the countdown to May 1 continues, our staff is running at a frantic pace! But in the rush to meet deadlines and make final preparations, we must be careful not to lose sight of our ultimate purpose. As we clamor to attend to the practical and technical preparations associated with the National Day of Prayer, we can't forget what a privilege it is in the first place to be involved in the noble work of calling our nation to prayer and repentance.

 

Indeed, as our culture increasingly embraces immorality and moves further away from biblical principles, we must remember that repentance is an important component of prayer. In fact, the necessity of turning from sin is reflected in NDP's theme and verse for 2003: "Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people" (Proverbs 14:34). Even as we endeavor to iron out the details of this year's observance, let us also strive to pursue righteousness in our own lives as an example to those around us.

 

When Solomon became king of Israel, he learned very quickly that there is a relationship between personal righteousness and the welfare of a nation. After completing construction on the temple and royal palace, Solomon received a visit from the Lord. God told Solomon that if the people of Israel continued in their sin, they could expect Him to "shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people" (2 Chronicles 7:13). But God also offered Israel a chance to escape its self-imposed pain and suffering, saying: "If my people, who are called by 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 heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).

 

Later in the same chapter, the Lord takes His focus off of the people of Israel and places it exclusively on Solomon as an individual, saying, "As for you, if you walk before me as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, I will establish your royal throne..." (vv. 17-18). On the other hand, the Lord warns Solomon of the dire consequences of failing to live a righteous life: "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..." (vv. 19-20).

 

As followers of Christ, we can learn much from God's personal message to Solomon. This episode serves as a reminder that each of us has a responsibility to stand for the principles of righteousness and to intercede in prayer on behalf of our nation. But in so doing, we must remember that change will not ultimately come as the result of our own efforts. Our part is simply to submit to God in humility, and then trust Him for the outcome.