Speaking to a large crowd in Washington, DC in early 1952, evangelist Billy Graham said, “What a thrilling, glorious thing it would be to see the leaders of our country today kneeling before Almighty God in prayer. What a thrill would sweep this country. What renewed hope and courage would grip the Americans at this hour of peril.” Our nation’s political leaders followed up on that call by Billy Graham, and in May 1952, The National Day of Prayer was signed into law as a national observance by President Harry Truman. In 1988, the law was amended so that the National Day of Prayer would be held on the first Thursday of May. Every year since then, Christians all across the country have come together on the first Thursday in May to pray for America.
The Bible is filled with prayer and calls to pray. King David declared, “In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch” (Psalm 5:3). The apostle Paul called on Christians to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12). Scripture even tells us “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:6).
These are reasons enough for Montana Southern Baptists to pray. Yet, we have many other reasons as we look at our communities and our nation. Lostness and despair confront us continually. The effect of spiritual darkness in the hearts of fellow Montanans and millions of other Americans across our land should also compel us to pray. Our nation is deeply divided in many ways. We need God to intervene.
The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer is PRAY FOR AMERICA: UNITY. Recently, I received this appeal from Pastor Ronnie Floyd, past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and current president of the 2018 National Day of Prayer, “The divisiveness within our nation is so serious that only God can heal it. As we stand under the banner of the cross of Jesus Christ, I hope you will stand with us in prayer for our nation.” Will you join with me and your MTSBC staff for prayer for our nation on May 3? Let’s confess our need for God in our own lives, in our churches, our communities, and across our land.
There is no problem in this nation that God cannot resolve. Our problems as a people are many, but at the root of them all is human sinfulness. Only God can speak into our hearts to address this. Let’s all join together with fellow Christians across the nation and call on God for His mercy and His power to fall on us all.