Thursday is the National Day of Prayer. At noon on that day, Christians from all across Denton County will meet on the lawn of the Courthouse on the Square for an hour of prayer. We’ll be joining Christians across our great nation doing the same thing.
We’ll be carrying on a great American tradition. In 1775, the first Continental Congress called for a National Day of Prayer. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln did the same. In 1952, Congress established this National Day of Prayer as an annual event by joint resolution after which Harry S. Truman signed the bill into law. President Reagan, in 1988, signed a bill amending the law and designating the first Thursday in May each year as the National Day of Prayer — May 2, this year.
President Lincoln called for Americans to set aside a day for seeking God’s favor because our nation was in dire straits. Lincoln had made a principled stand for freedom and was taking a lot of political heat for it. When asked whether he thought the North or the South had righteousness on their side, he replied: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”
A 2011 Gallup poll says that 70 percent of Americans are dissatisfied with the moral climate of our country and 76 percent of us believe it is getting worse. Most of us who show up on May 2 for prayer would probably agree.
But don’t misunderstand. This prayer meeting isn’t about policy or one political party over another. At the heart of our gathering is the idea given voice by President Lincoln generations before: Our nation is drifting away from God and we need to get back on his side.
The further we pull away from God, the more consequences we face — some of our own choosing, some unintended. The answer for our nation is moving back to God. And that’s the reason for prayer.
We pray for several reasons. First and foremost, prayer changes things — from hearts to minds. Secondly, prayer makes us better people: better fathers, mothers, husbands, wives, students. Third, prayer makes us better citizens: more concerned for our neighbors, better stewards of our world and resources, better employers and employees. And finally, prayer makes our nation better.
So, together we will pray. We will join in unity — across denominational lines — to pray for our president, our elected officials nationally, here in Texas and here in Denton. We’ll pray for our military, our teachers, our police and fire departments.
We’ll pray for God’s blessing on our businesses and churches and city. We’ll ask God for his protection.
And, as Americans have for generations, we will appreciatively express our First Amendment rights to freely express our religion, freedom of speech and freedom of peaceable assembly.
We’ll pray for you, too. We would love for you to join us.
“In His name the nations will put their hope (Matthew 12:21).”
JIM MANN, Ph.D. grew up in Denton and is lead pastor of New Life Church in Denton. He serves as a sponsoring pastor for the Denton County National Day of Prayer Task Force. You can learn more at www.nationaldayofprayer.org .