In light of recent tragedies that have struck our nation — the Colorado movie theater shootings, the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings and Boston Marathon bombings — there seems to be an urgent need for prayer. People are seeking hope, peace and comfort. They want answers. For countless believers, they are turning to God and embracing a lifestyle of prayer.
“The American people continue to be plagued with challenges that defy simple answers, and our hope lies in humbly seeking the Almighty’s guidance, protection, and blessing – not only on the National Day of Prayer, but throughout the year,” said National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF) chairman Shirley Dobson, wife of Family Talk founder Dr. James Dobson.
As the nation struggles, people also have other immediate concerns. They are looking for responses to issues including economic insecurity, healthcare reform, immigration and guns, among other hot topics, which continue to pressure our nation.
John Bornschein, vice chairman of NDPTF, urged, “It is absolutely imperative that the Christians in America today take these issues before God in prayer.”
This year’s National Day of Prayer theme, “Pray for America,” is both relevant and fitting as it focuses on Matthew 12:21, which states, “In his name the nations will put their hope.”
Michael Hohman, regional director for the Northeast Florida National Day of Prayer Task Force, said the task force is taking the verse from Matthew 12:21 to heart.
“From the recent events in our nation a few weeks ago in Boston to Denver, we have a lot of reasons to pray,” Hohman said. “The reason I believe prayer brings hope is because when catastrophes and tragedies happen, when evil is allowed to rear its head, the first thing that people take on, and they have to decide how to take it on, is a spirit of fear.”
If an impending tragedy occurs, a person may fear for their life, a loved one, a family member or a friend. Yet, when a focus is put on prayer, the heart triumphs on the reality of who a believer is in Christ.
“The battlefield of what we deal with on a daily basis as believers occurs in the mind,” Hohman said. “When events like this happen, it causes people to meditate and brood over the what ifs. They ponder all of the possibilities, ‘What would have happened if I were there,’ ‘What would have happened if my child was harmed,' or ‘What would have happened if I had been near the Boston Marathon.’”
He said with prayer, those that pray seek God and put themselves in his presence. “When you do that, all of those things that are extreme and the influences that come into the role play of your mind begin to fade away when you focus on your Creator and the relationship with your Heavenly Father,” Hohman said. “If people get involved with the National Day of Prayer, it can be a starting point to be able to develop a lifestyle of prayer and a pattern of prayer in their lives.”
Matt Hammitt, lead vocalist of Sanctus Real, said he and his bandmates wrote the song “Pray” based on that lifestyle of prayer.
“When we wrote the song, we started singing that verse about some of the things we were going through and about how sometimes we feel like were not sure in our humanness how to deal with our problems, or how to fix them,” Hammitt said. “We are fixers and we want to fix everything. Sometimes, in the moment, when you’re broken or in a desperate situation, you can’t fix things.”
In writing, he said, they thought about where that idea was leading: “We looked at each other and we said, ‘You pray.’ That’s what the Bible tells us to do in Philippians 4:6, ‘Don’t be anxious about anything, but in all things, prayer and supplication, make your request known to God.’ That’s how his peace covers our hearts and minds.”
“In hearing the song, I hope others are inspired to do the same thing. To make prayer a moment by moment lifestyle. At any given moment, whether that’s a whole slew of words that they pour out before the Father, or whether that’s simply calling out his name. Either way, when prayer is our lifestyle, that’s when all of the chaos in our lives starts to calm and we feel the undercurrent of the peace that God promised us.”
“Pray” is featured on the NationalDayofPrayer.org website. Hammitt published an accompanying essay that is also featured on the site.
Officials said the National Day of Prayer, a historic, symbolic day, reminds us of the great hope we have in the Lord. Even in the midst of a difficult tragedy, He restores our strength. Millions of believers will gather to pray on Thursday, May 2, in observance of the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer in thousands of public venues across the country. As many as 42,000 events are expected to take place. Christians will unite to pray for government, military, media, business, education, church and family.
Reports from the NDPTF indicated that creative gatherings of Christians continue illustrate how the habit of prayer can make a powerful difference in our lives.
“This is the largest designated day of prayer and that happens from pilots flying over capitals to hot air balloon events, motorcycle rallies and National Day of Prayer for Truckers. There are all kinds of unique ways people are mobilizing in prayer,” said Bornschein. “We suspect over four million people from coast to coast will be uniting in prayer on that day.”
A sampling of National Day of Prayer events include:
Washington, D.C. – Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship and founder of Harvest Crusades who serves as the 2013 honorary chairman of the NDPTF, will give the keynote address on May 2 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 and is open to the public. Featured guests include Pastor Greg Laurie, Dr. James and Shirley Dobson, Congressman Robert Aderholt, Vonette Bright, Pat Boone, Congressman Frank Wolf, Wintley Phipps, chaplain Barry Black, The Annie Moses Band, Dr. Dick Eastman, David Butts, John Bornschein and others (NationalDayofPrayer.org).
Cincinnati, Ohio – The Vineyard will host its annual event on May 2 with an interactive prayer experience, which will allow Christians in the area to unite with people all over the country to pray on the National Day of Prayer in the chapel of the Tri-County site. This prayer experience is kid-friendly for elementary-age children and up. Those interested are invited to come anytime between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. (vineyardcincinnati.com)
Hollywood, California – National Day of Prayer Hollywood will host an evening event on May 2 from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, Mears Center. Attendees will offer prayer for our country and praise for everything that God is doing in their city and within the entertainment/film industry (hollywoodprayernetwork.org/ndop).
Jacksonville, Florida – Sponsored by the National Day of Prayer Task Force Jacksonville, guests are invited to join city leaders, business leaders, pastors and other Christians in a time of worship and prayer for the nation on May 2 at 7 p.m. Featured guests include council members Robin Lumb and Kim Daniels, Sheriff Rutherford, school superintendant Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Bishop Paul Zink, Bishop Wiley Tomlinson, Father Peter Church, Pastor R.L., Sandalwood High School's performance choir and Englewood High School's JROTC (facebook.com/NDPJAX).
Australia and New Zealand – Internationally, from April 30 to May 2, Australia's National Day of Prayer and Fasting (nationaldayofprayer.com.au) will join with New Zealand (ANZAC) prayer leaders to call the nations of the world to 72 hours of prayer and fasting.
John Bornschein’s latest e-book (also soon to be in print) The Front Line: A Prayer Warrior's Guide to Spiritual Battle is one helpful resource. The Front Line is a field manual for exploring the depth and power of a praying life. Drawing on a variety of perspectives, this e-book explores prayer from every angle — from its basic elements to the obstacles that hold people back. With inspirational stories, tools and resources, The Front Line enables new recruits and seasoned prayer warriors alike to gain a greater understanding of the number one weapon in spiritual warfare: prayer.
To learn more about the National Day of Prayer or to find a local event in your community, visit NationalDayofPrayer.org.
Publication date: May 1, 2013