May 1 is the National Day of Prayer. A time for Americans, together, to prostrate themselves before God, ask for forgiveness, and then pray for the needs of America. This year the theme is "One Voice, United in Prayer," emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men. The Scripture for this year is Romans 15:6: "So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ."
It is with urgency that I take this opportunity to speak to you about a crucial matter concerning the future of America – PRAYER! Our founding fathers established this country on biblical truths and through prayer. In 2 Chronicles 7:14 the Lord proclaims "If my people, who call on My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, I will forgive their sins, and I will heal their land." This makes it clear that God loves and cares about, and responds to the attitudes and actions of His people. It is also a reminder that we cannot become complacent in striving to uphold the beliefs that provided the very framework upon which our beloved country was established.
From the days of our earliest settlers, Americans pray both in times of joy and times of sorrow. It is a means of uniting, guiding and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer provides reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose. We, as a people, called on prayer during 911, the Boston Marathon bombing, the explosion in West, Texas, and the shooting in Newton, Conn.
Prayer comes with power when people humble themselves before God and pray. The Book of Esther in the Bible talks about a nation of people called the Jews who prayed for their queen, Esther, to go before the King in order to make him aware of a decree he signed that would destroy her people. The result was her life spared, the Jews saved and the perpetrator killed. On Feb. 2 another example of the power of prayer was displayed, when local Latter Day Saints, their neighbors, and other religious groups in California gathered to fast and pray for moisture during the worst drought in California. Many witnessed a miracle as rain fell in many areas of California. Together, Americans can make a change through prayer.
Surveys of U.S. adults and teenagers, completed by Barna Research From 1991-2001, reveal the following statistics about people's prayer habits, which are essentially the same as expressed today:
* 82 percent of adults and 89 percent of teenagers pray in a normal week.
* 96 percent of born-again Christians pray weekly, while 72 percent of people not describing themselves as born-again pray on a weekly basis.
* 82 percent of people believe that prayer can change what happens in a person's life.
* 52 percent of people who pray do several times a day.
This is proof Americans pray. Let us pray, uniting in prayer on May 1, to see the Lord's healing and renewing power made manifest as we humbly come before His throne to pray for our nation. Let us pray for our government officials who are elected to serve the public. Let us pray for our police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm's way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us pray for the safety or our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us pray for needed rain to states that product our food supply. Let us pray for a nation united in seeking more efficient methods to reduce or eliminate our carbon footprint. Let us pray that we continue to have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today amongst communities, nationalities, religions, and faiths in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.
Together, let us exercise our rights as American citizens, to pray for our country, believing that God will bless it, if we humble ourselves and pray. "For it is not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). Therefore, pray without ceasing and as you pray, believe, trust God, be fervent in prayer and watch in the Spirit.
I urge you to take this time to pray. And after this day, continue to pray in groups, for our country needs your prayers. Let's unite in prayer.
Lyvita Brooks is the National Day of Prayer Committee chairperson
of Largo Community Church.