Millions across the nation are gathering today, Thursday, May 3, 2012, in honor of the 61st annual observance of the National Day of Prayer. As believers join in prayer at thousands of events, from coast to coast, prayers are being offered for the government, military, media, business, education, church and family.
“The National Day of Prayer provides an opportunity for the community of faith to take advantage of our freedom to worship and keep the Lord in the public arena. It’s imperative that we take advantage of this government-proclaimed day of observance by expressing our faith through prayer in the public square. By doing so, we can help to ensure that subsequent generations will enjoy the same liberty,” said National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force Chairman Shirley Dobson, wife of Focus on the Family founder Dr. James Dobson.
On Tuesday, May 1st, President Barack Obama signed this year’s Presidential Proclamation officially recognizing Thursday, May 3, 2012, as the 61st Annual National Day of Prayer.
In his proclamation, he calls upon individuals – “to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time.
“Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.”
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 throughout history. The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of America’s heritage. There have been 137 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by United States presidents.
In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual National Day of Prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, officially designating the day as the first Thursday of May, and each year the president signs a proclamation, inviting all Americans to take part. Typically, all 50 state governors issue similar proclamations.
“It is in our public law that we have the right as a believer, based on our freedom of religion, to observe the National Day of Prayer,” said Michael Hohman, regional director for the Northeast Florida National Day of Prayer Task Force.
“This is a critical year for the Lord to do something mighty in our nation. To bring healing and restoration and to bring back a moral fiber. We know that the first step in that is to pray for our nation, our government, for righteousness and for our churches to be in unity.” Hohman continued.
He said in cities like Jacksonville, Fla., the city council is issuing for the first time a resolution. The mayor will also make a prayer proclamation.
“We are excited that the city has joined forces with us in this event,” said Hohman.
Hohman will help to lead a Jacksonville, Fla event tonight at the University of North Florida’s Lazzara Theatre, from 6 to 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.NationalDayOfPrayerJax.org.
On the other side of the country, there are examples of churches, like The Dream Center in Los Angeles, who have also been committed to a season of prayer.
“We are located right here in the strategic part of Los Angeles, really, pretty much looking over the industry. A lot of times, what comes out of this city is not very good. So, I think this is a strategic place for us to pray, right here in the heart of the city,” said Matthew Barnett, author of The Cause Within You and founding pastor of The Dream Center.
As a result of a season of committed prayer, The Dream Center has experienced God’s blessing. The Dream Center has added 250 beds, even in the midst of the recession.
“When everyone is cutting off social services and helping people and they are waiting for a better day to expand, we have been able to add over 100 beds for homeless families to have a place to live. We have expanded our recovery program and we have opened up a home for 18- to 25-year-old single mothers in the middle of this season.”
“I believe that through prayer, through God’s people touching the heart of God, He is going to release blessings on American churches during this season, to be able to not only pray for the moving of God in our country, but to actually, provide resources to be able to do something very significant and practical on a day-by-day level in the lives of people,” Barnett said.
Tonight in Los Angeles, Barnett will host an all-night prayer event at the Dream Center. For more about The Dream Center, visit http://www.dreamcenter.org.
On a national level, Dr. David Jeremiah, author, founder of Turning Point Ministries and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church, who serves as the 2012 Honorary Chairman of the NDP Task Force, will give the keynote address this morning at the National Observance in Washington, D.C. The live broadcast event, from 9 a.m. to noon EST, will be held at the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill. Many dignitaries and honored guests, including James and Shirley Dobson and Azusa Pacific Men's Chorale, among others will be in attendance. The event is open to the general public. (Seating is limited).
Reports from the NDP Task Force indicate that the National Day of Prayer has ignited a movement that is experiencing double-digit growth. This is reflected in the sheer number of events that are happening, the need for prayer and the outpouring to their offices of how people have organized prayer throughout the year.
“Right now the National Day of Prayer is experiencing more than 35 percent growth in prayer events over last year. That means the 61st annual National Day of Prayer will be the largest in recorded history,” said John Bornschein, vice chairman of the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force.
“From prayer flights over state capitals, to ‘Pray and Play’ times for moms with toddlers, more people are answering the call to pray than ever before. This response is definitely a statement to those who would try to take away the very freedoms that our Founding Fathers sought and fought to ensure for themselves, and for us,” Bornschein said.
Americans are gathering in tens of thousands of venues, including churches, business offices, parks, schools, prisons, libraries, nursing homes, government buildings, military bases, and more, to exercise and celebrate their freedom and right to pray. To learn more about the National Day of Prayer, or to find a local event, visit www.NationalDayofPrayer.org.
Ginny McCabe is an author, feature and entertainment writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. You may email her at [email protected], or visit www.gmwriteon.com.
Publication date: May 3, 2012