Contributed by Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain
The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. This day of observance designated by the United States Congress, asks people to turn to God in prayer and meditation. The modern law formalizing the annual National Day of Prayer observance was enacted in 1952 and each year since, the president of the United States has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
Before 1952, there have been a few other individual National Days of Prayer in United States history:
• July 20, 1775 – The Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer be observed.
• In 1795 – George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.
• May 9, 1798 – John Adams declared this day as a day of solemn humility, fasting and prayer.
• March 1863 – On March 3, Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional resolution during the Civil War, which called for April 30, 1863 as a day of fasting and prayer.
For more information on National Day of Prayer visit the website nationaldayofprayer.org.
So, what is prayer? Simply, talking with God. The components of prayer consist of adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication (ACTS).
Adoration is saying to God, “I adore you.” Psalm 95:6 states, “O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD our maker.” Psalm 48:1 says, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness.”
Confession is confessing our sin to God. We must hold nothing back. Psalm 66:18 clearly states, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:” Sin hinders our ability to pray. King David said in Psalm 32:5, “I acknowledge my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.”
Thanksgiving means thanking God for all things. Paul in Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Supplication is our requests to God. Warning! James 4:3 explains why God does not answer our prayers. “Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” Our requests need to follow the teachings of the word of God. “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.” (1 John 3:22)
It is God’s desire that we pray. “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain