Praying for America and Her Leadership
A National Observance
An official proclamation from the White House announced a National Day of Prayer on May 2, 2013.
The annual observance encourages personal and corporate prayer in seven key areas: government, military, media, education, business, church, and family.
In past proclamations, President Barack Obama recognized the significance of prayer in the United States. He noted examples in two past American leaders: President Abraham Lincoln and civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr.
He also encouraged Americans to "ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation" while paying tribute to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces, "who have answered our country's call to serve with honor in the pursuit of peace."
This year, he asked Americans to pray for those who were affected by recent events such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut school shootings and the industrial disaster in West, Texas.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.
Pray for America
Each year, Congress calls on the President of the United States to declare a National Day of Prayer. The annual tradition predates the nation's founding, with a 1775 proclamation by the Continental Congress.
A joint congressional resolution created the first official observance of a National Day of Prayer in 1952. President Harry S. Truman signed the proclamation into law.
In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed an amended version that moved the observance to the first Thursday in May. The nation's 50 governors issue similar proclamations for their individual states.
The 2013 National Day of Prayer marked the 62nd annual observance, which followed a "Pray for America" theme. Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California, served as the honorary chairman.
Pastor Greg Laurie Encourages Americans to Pray
National Prayer Day Theme
I urge ... that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2
A Right and Responsibility
The Presidential Proclamation hearkened to the earliest American settlers who prayed that they would "rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work."
Today, the National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. According to Shirley Dobson, who chairs the National Day of Prayer task force, the observance "transcends differences, bringing together citizens of all backgrounds."
The National Day of Prayer represents a Judeo-Christian expression of prayer, based on the understanding that America was birthed in reverence for the God of the Bible. "The concepts and values of Judaism and Christianity are generally considered a basis for Western legal code and moral values," said the task force.
National prayer calls Americans to humble themselves before God as they seek his grace and guidance. Citizens are encouraged to pray for their national leaders, whether or not they agree with their politics.
Americans observe the National Day of Prayer in many ways.Some of them become strong "prayer warriors," particularly during an election year. While the elections are an important time for prayer, national prayer should extend beyond politics and annual observances.
The Bible says God blesses nations that keep his standards of righteousness and justice. American citizens have a right and a responsibility to pray for men everywhere, friends and foes alike.
I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
Just as prayer can change lives, it can transform nations. The National Day of Prayer encourages Americans to pray for their leaders, whether or not they agree with their politics.
To highlight the theme of "Pray for America," the National Day of Prayer task force chose Matthew 12:21 as the scripture verse of the year. "In His name the nations will put their hope," it says.
The following verses can also help Americans pray for the President, government officials, and members of the Armed Forces. The verses come from the NIV translation of the Bible.
- Psalm 33:12: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance."
- 2 Chronicles 7:13-14: "... if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
- 1 Timothy 2:1-2: "I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness."
- Psalm 91:2: "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."
America and Prayer
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National Prayer Resources
- A Presidential Proclamation from the White House declared a National Day of Prayer on May 2, 2013. This marked the 62nd observance of a day to pray for America and her leaders.
- The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday in May. While it represents a Judeo-Christian expression of prayer, it encourages Americans of all faiths to pray for their nation.
- The Presidential Prayer Team is a media ministry dedicated to focused prayer for the President, national leaders, and Armed Forces. It is based on a belief that "God rules over the affairs of men … and moves in response to the prayers of his people."
- In Touch Ministries is the teaching ministry of Charles Stanley, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Turning the Tide of Our Nation Through Prayer is a prayer schedule with supporting Scripture verses that encourages Americans to pray for their nation.
Prayer Song (with Lyrics): Performed by Sanctus Real
Copyright © 2011. Annette R. Smith. All rights reserved.
Published: May 9, 2011 / Modified: May 7, 2013.
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Last updated on May 7, 2013
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