It is because of our relationship with Jesus Christ that we are “in Christ,” that God hears our prayers. We must pray to the Father in Jesus’ name, not our own name (John 16:24, 26; Colossians 3:17). This means that we are basing our approach to God on Jesus’ righteousness and goodness, not on our own. We receive His righteousness when we repent, confess our sins, and believe that we receive His righteousness. We should know then that “in him we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and we can come directly and boldly to have an audience with God because of the sacrifice of Jesus in our place (Hebrews 4:16).
We come as children of God (Galatians 3:26; John 1:12), as members of the royal family of God (Revelation 1:6), and not as beggars or strangers. Therefore, when we pray, we should expect that God will answer our prayers (1 Peter 3:12). Answered prayer is how He manifests Himself in our lives and makes this relationship personal. “For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him” (2 Chronicles 16:9).
This is part 1 of our 8-part series on prayer.
Joni Eareckson Tada
Almighty God, you are our Mighty Fortress, our refuge and the God in whom we place our trust. As our nation faces great distress and uncertainty, we ask your Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon your people — convict us of sin and inflame within us a passion to pray for our land and its people.
Grant the leaders of our country an awareness of their desperate need of wisdom and salvation in You until sin becomes a reproach to all and righteousness exalts this nation.
Protect and defend us against our enemies and may the cause of Christ always prevail in our schools, courts, homes, and churches. Lord God, send a spirit of revival and may it begin in our own hearts.
Remember America, we pray. Remember the foundations on which this country was built. Remember the prayers of our nation’s fathers and mothers, and do not forget us in our time of need.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
- Joni Eareckson Tada
[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:
A great friend of our ministry, Joni Eareckson Tada (2011 Honorary Chairman and Founder of Joni and Friends), wants to encourage YOU to pray for our nation.
To learn more about Joni and Friends, and the incredible work they are doing, you can visit their website at http://www.joniandfriends.org
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.
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.
[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.