Thursday, May 05, 2016
A Time To Pray
More than 47,000 local prayer meetings will be held across America today.
This will be the 65th consecutive year America has observed the National Day of Prayer...it is a time to pray.
The theme of the national prayer meeting this year is, "Wake Up America."
While millions of Americans bow their knee before Almighty God today, atheists in the US House of Representatives remind us of why America must awaken.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) has submitted a resolution calling for a national "Day of Reason" as an alternative to the National Day of Prayer.
A verse chosen by leaders in the National Day of Prayer highlights the need to awaken: "Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet" (Is. 58:1).
For the past several years various leaders of the event have emphasized the urgency of our times---perhaps the times have never been more urgent than 2016.
Illustrating the urgency for Christians to pray for our nation in the same way those who wrote America's Constitution did during their contentious and urgent times, Rep Mike Honda (D-CA) has put forward a resolution to the US House of Representatives to establish an "alternative" to prayer---he calls it a national "Day of Reason."
Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, told the press, "While some may seek personal guidance from their god or gods, we encourage our elected leaders to use reason, compassion and egalitarianism as their guides in determining what's best for America."
In 1952, our US Congress approved the "National Day of Prayer," Speckhardt's comments reflect some of the changes that have taken place over the past 6 and a half decades, however, it is a very, very small minority who believe in an "alternative" to prayer.
President's from both political parties have typically signed proclamations in support of the date, calling upon Americans to pray for our country.
President Obama has struggled with how to honor Political Correctness in his comments about the nation praying to God. He will likely bow to Political Correctness and inclusiveness in his remarks today.
But America is awakening. And millions will pray to the Almighty. The God of the Bible.
Ron Furgerson, a Virginia pastor who is involved in the Day of Prayer, says, "We firmly believe that God wishes to communicate with His people and that He responds to their prayers."
More than 200 million Americans agree. This belief is widespread in our country.
In fact, the Washington Post published an article last year reporting that research shows 57% of all Americans pray every day---while 75% pray at least once a week. Only 25% said they don't believe in prayer.
The pastor says, "As there is more discord and divisiveness in our country now than at any time in the recent past, possibly not since the Civil War, there has never been a time when prayer has been more important."
Hundreds of millions of Americans would agree with that as well.
Pastor Tony Evans, a co-chair for the NDP and best-selling author, has written, "At a time when it seems that our nation is toppling over---morally, culturally, economically and politically---you may be asking this question: 'Is there any hope for America?' The answer is 'Yes'."
Evans says, "America's problems are spiritual, and God and His rule are America's only hope. As His people, God is calling us to return to Him in humility and repentance, to submit to His authority. Only as we commit to doing so, individually and collectively, will we realize that hope."
America was founded on "that hope."
America's founding was miraculous. There are dozens of confirmed incidents where America's Founders and leaders bent a knee in prayer to God in their times of difficulty.
One such moment was during the Constitutional Convention on July 28, 1787.
Our Founders had been meeting for 5 weeks in an attempt to create a constitution for the newly formed United States of America.
There was profound disagreement on nearly every point of the document they were trying to create.
Finally, 81 year old Ben Franklin---not known to be necessarily religious, stood and began to speak to his colleagues: "The small progress we have made after 4 or 5 weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other--our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfect of the human understanding."
Franklin would say the same today to Rep. Mike Honda and his proposed "alternative" to prayer. Franklin would tell the Representative from California that his notion of "reason, compassion, and egalitarianism" are wholly inadequate for the challenges of our times---just as they were for the challenges of his times.
Franklin continued to his colleagues: "We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it," reminding Washington, Madison and the others they had been spending a great amount of time studying models of government from ancient times to current---but none were suitable to "our circumstances."
He said, this Assembly, "groping as it were in the dark to find political truth and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?"
In the remainder of his comments, he told those who would found the greatest nation in the history of the world..."I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth---that God governs in the affairs of men---And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?"
"I therefore beg leave to move---that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business..."
The Chair of the Assembly understood what Franklin was saying.
It was 11 years earlier that he--- George Washington, the commander of the Continental Army, was looking at what most believed to be imminent defeat of the colonies in Valley Forge, by the biggest, strongest and best-outfitted army in the world at that time---the British.
In the midst of the most dire circumstances, Washington removed himself from his troops and was seen kneeling by a tree in the forest praying to Almighty God.
A rag tag continental army went on to defeat the most powerful army in the world, and the greatest, most free, most prosperous, most blessed nation in history was born.
Now, some years later, the leaders were struggling, fighting with one another---human ability had been exhausted.
The convention agreed with Franklin, closed the business session and prayed. And continued to do so every morning---sometimes for a couple of hours. That practice continues to this day in Congress.
Within days, they were in agreement---our Constitution was written and a Republic was born.
Franklin, who was not known to be very religious, Washington, who was quite religious and the others who founded this nation would tell us today, in 2016, to do the same, and expect the same results, because God has not changed.
Today we do just that.
God help us.