By the President of the United States of America
Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would "rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work." From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.
Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.
All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.
On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm's way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a "National Day of Prayer."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God's continued guidance, mercy, and protection.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
By the President of the United States of America
Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience. Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation. May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other, and rely on the better angels of our nature in service to one another. Let us be humble in our convictions, and courageous in our virtue. Let us pray for those who are suffering around the world, and let us be open to opportunities to ease that suffering.
Let us also pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have answered our country's call to serve with honor in the pursuit of peace. Our grateful Nation is humbled by the sacrifices made to protect and defend our security and freedom. Let us pray for the continued strength and safety of our service members and their families. While we pause to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending liberty, let us remember and lend our voices to the principles for which they fought—unity, human dignity, and the pursuit of justice.
Now, Therefore, I, Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3, 2012, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I call upon individuals of all faiths to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand twelve, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth.
[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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Can you remember a time where you really questioned God? If you are honest with yourself then I suspect I am not alone on this, although, personally, I’m not proud to admit the struggle. For me, it was a time early in prayer ministry. I was in a 12-hour prayer meeting in Alabama, participating with thousands of spiritually hungry young people and seasoned prayer warriors.
My prayer to the Lord began with an overwhelming since of inadequacy. The following words echoed through my mind, “I can’t believe You have me here in this place with these of such spiritual depth. Who am I? I am from a small, one high school town in Texas. I didn’t go to seminary. I don’t have a degree in Theology and here I sit with such giants in faith. I am so ordinary. “ I felt like a toddler among adults.
I was thinking all this from the additional perspective of my role with the National Day of Prayer Task Force. A daily part of my work then, and now, includes supporting the volunteer coordinator network across the nation. I have the privilege of working with our national area leaders, thousands of devoted volunteers and international ministry prayer leaders. So, I found myself questioning my Lord. How could He use “ordinary me” with the likes of these zealots? The setting was a large convention center space with row upon row of chairs of people agreeing in prayer. In the midst of this brief internal evaluation, riddled with self-doubt, I felt a stiff breeze and looked up. It felt like the convention center doors had burst open sending a gush of wind inside. However everyone else was still bowed in intercession, unaffected.
Then the Lord had my full attention for His contribution to this prayer. By His Spirit, I listened: “I DON’T DO ORDINARY”. With such clear and simple words surfaced deep instruction that still teaches me today. As I mediated more, God showed me that He is my Creator. Very simply stated, He taught me that He, as Lord God, just cannot make anything ordinary. Ordinary is not a word to associate with Him or His creation as we are made in His image.
This is all about His majesty and compete sovereignty; nothing that we do on our own. It is all about His plan for you and me.
Do you wonder what more He has for you? Ask Him. He delights to work through our weakness if we are in humble submission to His absolute holiness and divine nature. Through your extraordinary prayer life with the living God through Jesus our Lord, be assured you are living the life He wants for you. It will be one that bears fruit beyond your human capacity - beyond your days here on earth.
Here at the National Day of Prayer Task Force, there is plenty of room for you. The nation needs those who will participate in prayer observances on May 2nd; which is coming up quickly. Certainly, in our hope to see every county in America bathed in prayer, we need more who will step forward to plan and host these prayer gatherings. So, I am challenging you now to learn how you make a difference. Click the ‘volunteer’ link on the main menu of our website to get involved, helping your state coordinator mobilize prayer near you.
Additionally, consider joining the National Day of Prayer hosted prayer call, any night of the year, from 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. CDT, (be sure to adjust for your time zone). Simply call our free conference line (uses minutes if you have a limited plan), 712-432-0075, and enter the access code: 4961322#. This is a wonderful way to connect with intercessors from across the country and experience prayer with praise, repentance and yielding to our Lord God. Then, on the First Thursday of each month this call concentrates on a national focus, based on our theme, Pray for America.
As you determine how you can get involved, please prayerfully consider lending your financial support as well, to help us continue to call this nation to prayer. No gift is too small.
Prayer moves on God’s willingness. Only He can heal this land and by His extraordinary design He moves through our earnest prayers. So, are you ordinary? No, remember, He doesn’t do ordinary! We are made by the one and only Almighty God who loves beyond imagination. As you go to Him today in prayer, listen and wait in expectation for His specific answers. They will not be ordinary.
For thirty-four years Ravi Zacharias has spoken all over the world and in numerous universities, notably Harvard, Princeton, and Oxford University. He has addressed writers of the peace accord in South Africa, the president's cabinet and parliament in Peru, and military officers at the Lenin Military Academy and the Center for Geopolitical Strategy in Moscow. He has been privileged to bring the main address at the National Day of Prayer in Washington, DC, an event endorsed and co-hosted by President George W. Bush, and at the Pentagon. Additionally, Dr. Zacharias has spoken twice at the Annual Prayer Breakfast at the United Nations in New York, which marks the beginning of the UN session each year, and at the invitation of the President of Nigeria, he addressed the delegates at the First Annual Prayer Breakfast for African Leaders, held in Mozambique.
Dr. Zacharias was born in India in 1946 and immigrated to Canada with his family twenty years later. While pursuing a career in business management, his interest in theology grew; subsequently, he pursued this study during his undergraduate education. He received his Masters of Divinity from Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois. Well-versed in the disciplines of comparative religions, cults, and philosophy, he held the chair of Evangelism and Contemporary Thought at Alliance Theological Seminary for three and a half years. Dr. Zacharias has been honored by the conferring of a Doctor of Divinity degree both from Houghton College, NY, and from Tyndale College and Seminary, Toronto, and a Doctor of Laws degree from Asbury College in Kentucky. He is presently a Visiting Professor at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University in Oxford, England.
At the invitation of Billy Graham he was a plenary speaker at the International Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in Amsterdam in 1983, 1986, and 2000. Dr. Zacharias has been a visiting scholar at Cambridge University, where he studied moralist philosophers and literature of the Romantic era. While at Cambridge he also authored his first book, A Shattered Visage: The Real Face of Atheism (Baker Book House, 1994, 2nd ed.), which in 2004 was updated and republished by Baker as The Real Face of Atheism. His second book, Can Man Live Without God (Word Publishing, 1994), was awarded the Gold Medallion for best book in the category of doctrine and theology. Deliver Us from Evil (Word, 1996) followed with an accompanying video series. Cries of the Heart (Word, 1998) was his fourth book. His first children's book, The Merchant and the Thief (Chariot Victor), was released in 1999, followed by The Broken Promise (Chariot Victor, 2000). Jesus Among Other Gods (Word, 2000) was nominated for a Gold Medallion. The first in a series of great conversations, The Lotus and the Cross: Jesus Talks with Buddha was released by Multnomah in 2001, and the second, Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde, in 2002. Dr. Zacharias' very personal response to the September 11th tragedy is Light in the Shadow of Jihad (Multnomah, 2002). Recapture the Wonder was released by Integrity Publishers in 2003 and I, Isaac Take Thee, Rebekah, a book on marriage, in February 2004 by the W Publishing Group. His latest work is Walking From East to West: God in the Shadows (with R.S.B. Sawyer) published by Zondervan (2006). Several of these books have been translated into many other languages including Russian, Arabic, Korean, and Thai.
Dr. Zacharias is listed as a distinguished lecturer with the Staley Foundation and has appeared on CNN and other international broadcasts. His weekly radio program, "Let My People Think," is broadcast over 1500 stations worldwide, and his weekday program, "Just Thinking" began airing in November 2004. He is president of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, with additional offices in Canada, India, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Mr. Zacharias and his wife, Margie, have three grown children.
[hr] So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God. - Matthew 5:23-24
An unforgiving Christian is an oxymoron. If you are a Christian, then you must forgive, because forgiven people are forgiving people. Therefore, you cannot be an unforgiving Christian. And if you want your prayers to be answered in the affirmative, then you must forgive others. Jesus gave this command: "If you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God" (Matthew 5:23–24).
Jesus also taught us to pray, "And forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us . . . (Luke 11:4). We need to learn to forgive, because we are all flawed. We will sin against people, and people will sin against us. Husbands will offend their wives, and wives will offend their husbands. Parents will offend their children, and children will offend their parents. Family members will offend one another. Friends will offend one another. So we must choose to forgive. We must determine not to let those offenses keep us from communion and fellowship with God.
It may be that someone has really hurt you. You may even have every right to be angry and bitter. But do you know who gets hurt the most when you harbor anger and hostility and vengeful thoughts toward someone? You do. And not only that, you are cutting yourself off from fellowship with God. Ephesians 4:32 tells us to "be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another. . . ."
When God forgave you, did you deserve to be forgiven? Does the person who hurt you deserve to be forgiven? Forgive anyway. Based on God's love and grace, we should forgive.
As we celebrate Easter, I'm comforted by the reminder that our Savior remains as present in our world today as He was when He walked the earth more than 2,000 years ago. This is a wonderful time of year to reflect on the unfailing reality of "God with us" and to rediscover our adoration for the Lord.
Psalm 89 says, "I will sing of the Lord's great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations."
Easter is a time of reflection and to count our blessings, to show our appreciation for each other, and most importantly for appreciating God. These moments remind us that Jesus has given us everything through his life, death, and resurrection. We have all we need in Him!
Author Ruth Myers writes, "I find that my worship is richer when I offer the Lord praise and thanks for three things: who He is, what He does, and what He gives." At this very moment, what can you say about each of these? I urge you to review often the questions of who God is, what He does, and what He gives. I pray that your answers every day will be a little richer, a little stronger, and a little more powerful in the grip they hold on your heart's affections.
He is Risen Indeed!
[typography font="Cantarell" size="22" size_format="px"]Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us - 1 John 5:14 NKJV[/typography] [hr]
In a broad sense, we should pray about everything. But there are certain things that we don't need to pray about. For example, if someone were to say, "Greg, I'm praying about robbing a bank. Would you pray with me?" I will pray for that person, but I won't pray that God will bless their efforts. Why? Because the Bible says, "You shall not steal." We don't need to pray about that. Yet, there are certain things God tells us we can pray for.
He tells us we can pray for wisdom. "If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him" (James 1:5 NKJV).
We can pray for His provision. Philippians 4:19 says, "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (NKJV)."
We can pray for protection. Psalm 91:5-7 says, "You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you (NKJV)."
We can pray for power to meet the challenges of life. Ephesians 1:18-19 tells us: "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe (NIV)."
The key to effective prayer is getting our will in alignment with God's will, as the verse at the top of today's post explains. Nothing lies outside the reach of prayer, except that which lies outside of the will of God.
...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]