The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible. (http://nationaldayofprayer.org/about/)
Thursday, May 7th is National Day of Prayer. It is timely that I recently read the following verses:
2 Samuel 21:14: "...and after that God was moved by prayer for the land."
2 Samuel 24:25: "...Thus the LORD was moved by prayer for the land, and the plague was held back from Israel."
In the first passage, God was disciplining Israel for breaking their covenant with the Gibeonites. Saul had been trying to wipe them out, but was violating the covenant that had been made when Israel first entered the promised land.
The second passage relates to the time David ordered Joab to count all of his troops. It is presumed that he was being prideful regarding his military strength rather than glorifying God's strength. Although he repented and grace was applied, sin always has consequences. The Bible says that God disciplines those He loves (Hebrews 12:6). God gave David three choices. He was given the choice of seven years of famine, three months of running from his enemies or three days of plague. Because David trusted in God's mercy and feared the mercilessness of man, he chose three days of plague at the hand of God.
In each passage we learn that it is after repentance and worship that the prayers are heard and move the heart of God. We do not religiously approach God in prayer to manipulate Him to do what we want or need Him to do. God is interested in changed, devoted and fully surrendered hearts. That is what causes Him to hear prayers. Psalm 66:18 says, "If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear..."
God desires His people to come humbly and dependently to Him and seek His favor and love Him first and foremost and to learn from Him. We must pray regularly. Prayer is our communion with God. We must specifically pray for our nation and confess both our individual and our national sins just as Nehemiah did.
Will you join me in praying, first, confessing our own personal sins? What have you done that is offensive to God? If you don't know, just start with the Ten Commandments. We have all violated at least one of them and probably on a regular basis. Confess that to Him. Next, will you join me in regularly reading the Bible? That is how we learn about who God is, what He expects, why He expects it and why He is deserving of our devotion and service. Finally, will you allow God to change your heart and your life to be conformed to His ways? If you do this, He will begin to hear your prayers and He, the Creator of the entire universe, will be moved by your prayers. He already sent His only Son to die for you, paying your sin's penalty. He loves you. He is waiting for you.
For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet