[typography font="Cantarell" size="24" size_format="px"]"Pray that we will be able to weather the storm that I am almost certain will come – that we will not be required to put aside our Constitutional rights." - Rear Admiral William D. Lee[/typography] [hr]
Every year, the National Day of Prayer Task Force coordinates several events on Capital Hill including the National Observance at the Cannon House Office Building. With speakers like Chuck Swindoll, Oliver North, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Franklin Graham, the expectations are always high and the response is overwhelming. More than one hundred thousand people tune in live, via video stream, for what is sure to be a prayer event highlight reel as representatives from each branch of government, prominent ministries, and businesses share encouraging and convicting messages with ambassadors, delegates, and individuals from all walks of life in the historic Caucus Room – and the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer observance did not disappoint.
The morning began promptly at 9:00 a.m. eastern with the presentation of the colors by the Joint Armed Forces Color Guard and the National Anthem by the Brass Quintet. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, kicked off the momentous celebration with a warm greeting and introduction of both Rabbi Daniel Lapin and Rabbi Neal Surasky.
Rabbi Daniel Lapin took the podium first and blessed the occasion with eloquent words of personal evaluation as to how we view the exercise of prayer; “It is the entirety of the Bible that is the blueprint to goodness, decency, hope, optimism and faith. Prayer is not surrendering to the spasm of superstitious reflection, rather, prayer is asking God and supplicating to God.”
Rabbi Neal Surasky then put the Shofar to his lips and belted out what seemed to be the longest held note to echo throughout the halls of Congress in the history of our nation. At that moment, we knew the prayer event had begun.
...Our nation is under the care and providence of Almighty God and has confidence that He will guide the course of our nation..." - Father Jerome Magat
The line-up of speakers that followed were second to none with each building on the other and driving the message that prayer is the only hope for America. With the opening prayer from Father Magat, who stated that “our nation is under the care and providence of Almighty God and has confidence that He will guide the course of our nation”, to the powerful words of Barry Black, chaplain of the Senate, who urged people to stop praying for just themselves and to start praying for their leaders, even if they disagree with their politics. "Let us stop praying only for ourselves, adding that “Godliness is a national security issue." Indeed, the National Observance was not one to miss.
Judge David Gustafson, who represented the Judicial Branch, sought prayer for all those serving in this vital role, "Please pray that God will give us wisdom beyond our wisdom." Both Representative Robert Aderholt (AL) and Representative Frank Wolf (VA) took the stage and reminded the nation that there are still congressmen who pray and do so with great expectation that God will direct the affairs of the nation. Wolf then quoted de Tocqueville with these words, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers - and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce - and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution - and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.”
Pat Boone, an original member of the National Day of Prayer Task Force in 1988, reminded us that America's founding fathers embraced religious practice and Christianity. “Benjamin Franklin called for a daily sermon before Congress began deliberations. John Jay, a member of the Supreme Court, said that Christians were preferred for government positions.” He then quoted Proverbs 21:1 which says, "In the Lord’s hand the king's heart is a stream of water that he channels toward all who please him.” Then added these words, "Heaven is waiting for our decisions and our petitions."
...With God nothing is impossible and God can turn America around.” - Pastor Greg Laurie, 2013 Honorary Chairman
This led up to the message by the Honorary Chairman, Greg Laurie, who said, “With God nothing is impossible and God can turn America around.” After his powerful words of affirmation, hope and inspiration, he closed with the reading of the national prayer.
Finally, it was Rear Admiral William D. Lee who ended the 3-hour event with five, yes 5, standing ovations. He gave a desperate appeal for prayer asking all to lift up the armed forces at such a critical time in our nation’s history. “Pray that we will be able to weather the storm that I am almost certain will come – that we will not be required to put aside our Constitutional rights,” he said. General Jerry Boykin issued the following statement after hearing the passionate and courageous message; "Rear Admiral William Lee demonstrated real courage yesterday when he spoke at the National Day of Prayer event in the nation's capital. I have seen courage manifested in many ways, including the ultimate sacrifice of one's life for one's country, but this type of moral courage is becoming more and more rare...You want a real hero? Just look no further than Rear Admiral William D Lee.”
If you missed it, then listen now to the 2013 National Observance:
[typography font="Cantarell" size="16" size_format="px"]"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." - Philippians 4:6-7[/typography] [hr]
PRAY - Check out the music video below...
We wrote the song Pray because these are anxious times. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on the edge of my seat, watching and waiting as tensions rise and markets fall. The 2012 election has left me acutely aware of the fact that we are a nation divided, fragile and in dyer need of true hope. From my television screen to my twitter feed, I’m confronted with a minute-by-minute timeline of the latest news from around the world. The awareness that we’re just one thumb tap away from another shocking headline can be stressful. What will come next? We wonder if North Korea will launch a nuclear missile, if another homemade bomb in a backpack will be detonated at a public gathering, or if the mild-mannered kid next door will carry out another mass murder.
Sometimes it’s not world news that leaves me anxious, but parts of my own little world that seem to be falling apart. The pressure of holding it all together is daunting when I get to thinking it’s on my own shoulders. Sometimes I find myself tossing my hands up in the air and asking in an exasperated tone, “What in the world is going on?”
In those moments I have to remind myself of what’s behind our personal life challenges and the world’s headlines, the fist of a dictator and the face of a politician, the cape of a hero and the mask of a villain. In every conflict, no matter where we live or which side we’re on, behind every struggle is what the Apostle Paul described in his letter to the Ephesians.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” - Ephesians 6:12
Paul doesn’t leave us to wonder how we should view our struggles or what actions we should take. He tells the Ephesians to stand firm on truth, righteousness, salvation and the word of God. He ends by making an earnest appeal that we see him make over and over again in his letters to Christian men and women. He teaches them, and us, to pray; and not just every so often or when we’re in distress, but to pray “at all times” in Ephesians 6:18. Again, in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, he writes that we should “pray without ceasing.”
These are indeed anxious times, and heaven and earth are at war. Every public headline and personal challenge is a reminder, as well as a call, not to lift our hands in despair, but rather to continue lifting our hands and voices in prayer.
Will you answer the call?
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...if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses... [hr]
Greg Laurie, 2013 Honorary Chairman
[hr] "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."— Mark 11:25-26
Prayer is a wonderful privilege. We can pray anytime or anywhere. Daniel prayed in a cave filled with hungry lions. The apostle Paul prayed when he was in a dungeon in chains. Peter prayed on the surface of the water. And Jonah prayed under the water. So wherever you are, you can pray.
But maybe you have you been praying about something for a long time, and nothing has happened. Maybe it is a legitimate request—you are asking God for His wisdom or provision—yet it seems your prayer is going unanswered.
Here is my question to you: Are you harboring unforgiveness in your heart right now? Let me say it another way: Are you nursing a grudge against someone? Every time you see that person, do you begin to boil with anger and feel your blood pressure rising? You may say, "Well, you need to understand. That person has wronged me."
We all have been wronged in life. We all have been hurt in life. We all have been mistreated in life. We cannot control the universe, as hard as we try. But what we can do is choose how we will react when injustice comes our way in life.
Jesus said, "And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses."
Forgiven people should be forgiving people. So it is time to bury the hatchet (but not in that person's back) and forgive. Remember, when you forgive someone, you set a prisoner free: yourself.
Greg Laurie, 2013 Honorary Chairman for the National Day of Prayer Task Force
[hr] Now they came to Jericho. As He went out of Jericho with His disciples and a great multitude, blind Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, sat by the road begging. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!"— Mark 10:46-47
I wonder whether Bartimaeus, a blind man, would have been healed by Jesus if he had simply sat in silence when Jesus walked by. Would Jesus have stopped and turned toward him and touched him? Perhaps. But there were a lot of blind people around during Jesus' earthly ministry. There were a lot of deaf people. There were a lot of people with leprosy. There were a lot of people with all kinds of physical problems.
But Jesus didn't heal all of those people, did He? In fact, we usually find in Scripture that Jesus responded to the people who called out to Him. In the case of Bartimaeus, he cried out, and his voice was heard. It probably helped that he screamed. We do not need to scream in our prayers, necessarily, but we do need to be persistent.
What is your need today? Do you need a touch in your body, like Bartimaeus did? Then call out to Jesus. Do you have a child who needs to be healed? Do you have a marriage that needs help? Then call out to Jesus. And don't give up if the answer does not come quickly.
Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." (Matthew 7:7–8).
When Jesus stopped to restore Bartimaeus' sight, He was on His way to the cross. He was on His way to die for the sins of the world—and for your sins and mine.
Do you need His forgiveness today? Then call out to Jesus. Romans 10:13 says, "For 'whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.' "[hr]
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be children of your Father in heaven. – Matthew 5:43-45 [hr]
After the last elections, our vice-chairman, John Bornschein, wrote a poignant article, addressing the state of our culture, and just how wide the chasm of biblical truth and moral relativism has grown. Here is an excerpt from that article:
“Abraham Lincoln, quoting from the biblical passage of Mark 3:24, boldly stated that “a house (nation) divided against itself cannot stand.” The issues that divided our nation during the 2012 elections were of greater significance than the prevailing economic scrutiny. Rather, the moral values of the sanctity of human life, preservation of marriage, defense of Israel and religious freedoms became the overwhelming subject of many attack ads, speeches and debates. There seemed to be more emphasis on the definition of marriage and the defense of the unborn than ever before.
Clearly candidates aligned with opposing sides of the spectrum with no middle ground. Based on the arguments, life was described as either 1) sacred and meant to be preserved no matter what the circumstances or 2) life was a decision and not a right. Either marriage was described as one man and one woman as it was from the beginning, or it was left to interpretation and redefinition based on social moral relativism. In addition, there were clear divisions on the subject of Israel and religious freedoms.
Therefore, we must examine ourselves as a nation. Aside from party affiliation, the election was clearly a revelation of the values of the voter. Therefore, the problem isn’t as much in Washington D.C. as we would like to believe. The problem is in our homes, our communities, and even our churches. Indeed, the heart of the American people has changed.”
In plain language, we find ourselves living in a nation, and at a time, when seemingly, more than half of the voting population have beliefs and philosophies that are contrary to ours. In the spheres of government, military, family, education, media, business, and even in the church, it is becoming difficult to find people who hold to, and stand up for, a strong biblical world view. In such a contentious environment, those who ‘try to live godly’ will certainly make more enemies and experience more persecution.
The word translated ‘persecute’ literally means ‘to make to flee or drive away’. The idea, being to harass, trouble, molest or mistreat someone, until they give up or leave. So when Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “The fact is, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”, we can, as the old saying goes, ‘take that to the bank’! Not a pleasant thought, and it certainly doesn’t feel good! Deep down, we all want people to like us, but when we take a stand against ungodliness in our culture, many will stand against us. And when they do, we are to pray.
Knowing what to do is one thing, but doing what we know to do is quite another. When we pray, Jesus directs us not only to pray, but to pray with love. When we take a closer look at the word translated ‘love’ in Matthew 5, we find that it’s the same Greek word used in John 3:16 to describe God’s love for us, in John 3:35 to describe God the Father’s love for Jesus and in John 11:5 to describe Jesus’ love for Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Unconditional, never failing, always enduring love! You see, Jesus knew a little something about human nature. He knew that our natural response to ‘enemies’ and ‘persecution’ would NOT be prayer. He also knew that our prayers, if not sincere, would not ‘availeth much’. So He began with a command to love. You see, prayer, motivated by love, will always produce passion.[hr]
And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. — Jeremiah 29:13 [hr]
Sometimes we think a prayer wasn't answered when, in effect, it was. It just wasn't answered in the affirmative.
When we ask God for something and He says, "No," then it means no. So if we want our prayers answered in the affirmative, then we need to align ourselves with God's will.
God answers prayer in three ways: yes, no, and wait. Sometimes He wants you to grow through your challenge. The apostle Paul came to God with a prayer to remove a physical infirmity. We don't know what it was, but most commentators believe it was either a disability or an injury he suffered as a result of his ministry. Clearly there were many occasions this could have happened, because Paul was beaten, whipped, shipwrecked, and even put in prison and left for dead on one occasion. You name it, and Paul pretty much went through it.
Whatever the infirmity was, it bothered Paul. So he asked God to take it away. But God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Sometimes God does not take our adversity away, but He wants us to grow through it.
Then there was Moses, who wanted to see the Israelites delivered from bondage in Egypt. He didn't wait on God, but instead took matters into his own hands and killed an Egyptian guard. When the Pharaoh found out about it, he effectively put out a contract on Moses' life, and Moses went into exile for 40 years. Moses had the right idea, but his timing was way off.
Sometimes God will say, "Yes," sometimes He will say, "No," and sometimes He will say, "Wait." But we can be assured that when we passionately cry out to God by faith, He hears us.[hr]