At the height of the glory of the Persian Empire, among the Jewish families who did not return to Jerusalem after being taken into captivity by the Babylonians was a man named Mordecai and his orphan cousin, Esther. The story of her rise from total obscurity to become the queen of the world’s most powerful monarch of that time, King Xerxes, illustrates how God uses events and people as instruments to fulfill His plans in the world.
Xerxes elevated his most trusted advisor Haman, who ordered everyone to kneel before him whenever in his company. When Mordecai repeatedly refused to kneel, the enraged and egotistical Haman discovered that Mordecai was Jewish. In a villainous moment, perhaps rivaled in history only by the Holocaust, Haman convinced Xerxes to sign a law to have all the Jews exterminated and to seize their property.
Hearing of the new law, Mordecai pleaded with Esther, urging her to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people. “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). After calling upon the Jews in the capital city to fast and pray, Esther risked her own life, exposed Haman’s plot and true character, and saved the entire nation. Even today, Jews celebrate their deliverance through the Feast of Purim.
Similarly, as American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, President Franklin Roosevelt called for our nation to unite in prayer. He also offered a prayer to prepare each citizen for the road ahead. “Let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee.” The victory that followed on June 6, 1944, also known as D-day, began the march to Berlin. Eighteen months later, WWII was over, and one of the world’s greatest evils had been defeated. The prayers of a nation had been a powerful force.
Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection, and strength, even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The Pilgrims at Plymouth relied on prayer during their first and darkest winter. Our Founding Fathers also called for prayer during the Constitutional Congress. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a direct gift from God. And being a gift from God, there was only one way to ensure protection – through prayer.
President Abraham Lincoln knew this well. It was his belief that, “It is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God.” When it came to the fate of the nation, he practiced what he preached. Before the battle of Gettysburg, he turned to God in prayer. “I went to my room one day, and I locked the door and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.” Won by the Union, Gettysburg was one of the turning points in the war that ended slavery and kept the states united.
Today, the need for prayer is as great as ever. Our nation again faces battlefields, along with an epidemic of broken homes, violence, sexual immorality, and social strife. As the heroes of our nation did in the past, we must again bow our heads in prayer. We must ask the Lord to bless our leaders with wisdom and protection, and that we will have the fortitude to overcome the challenges at hand. If Esther, Mordecai, Roosevelt, the Pilgrims, and Lincoln never underestimated the power of prayer, neither should we.
The 64th annual National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 7. Join the prayer movement at www.nationaldayofprayer.org
- Lance Wubbels
Dr. Henry Blackaby
Oh Heavenly Father, You have made Yourself known to us as a nation by Your mighty works throughout our history.
From the beginning, You have been with us and through many wars and conflicts Your Right Arm has saved us. We have been amazingly and graciously blessed.
Today, we confess our sin of not responding to Your right to rule in our lives and our nation. We have despised and rejected Your will while imposing our own, and are now fully under Your judgments. Draw us back to Yourself, that you may return to us once again. Without You we can do nothing. You have promised that if we honor You, You will once again honor us!
For Your honor and glory we pray,
Dr. Ravi Zacharias
In a world where so many are hungry, You have given us food in abundance; In a world where so many are hurting, You offer to bind up our wounds; In a world where so many are lonely, You offer friendship to every heart; In a world longing for peace, You offer hope.
Yet, we are so stubborn and resistant. Have mercy upon us, Lord. Our nation is at a crossroads; we look to you to be our strength and shield.
Please give us guidance and may we honor you and respond to the wisdom from above so that our hope may be renewed and our blessings be treasured.
In Jesus’ holy name.
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
In today's tumultuous times, we all have moments where we are afraid, anxious, and worried. But there's an antidote for this anxious age. It connects us to the greatest source of peace, hope, and security that we could ever imagine. The cure is the remarkable gift from our loving and merciful God. It's called prayer.
Though many may call the twenty-first century the Age of Anxiety, our current troubles are not new. Mankind's future has always been uncertain. Since the days of Noah and his family, Moses and the nation of Israel, the persecuted early Church, the Pilgrims, and America's Founding Fathers, the answer for people facing adversity has always been the same: Almighty God.
Simply put, there is no security apart from Him. When problems threaten to engulf us, we must do what believers have always done - turn to the Lord for encouragement and solace. We never need to face the fury of life's storms on our own. He keeps His promise: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). He stands just to the side ever watchful, waiting to embrace us the moment we ask His presence. His words to Jeremiah apply to us all: "Call to me and I will answer you" (Jeremiah 33:3).
Prayer is our pathway not only to divine protection, but also to a personal, intimate relationship with God. The Lord desires a personal, two-way conversation with me and with you. You are His child. He wants you to seek Him, to love Him, and to spend time daily with Him. When you do, He hears and responds (Matthew 6:6). Your prayers never go unanswered. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it is no, and sometimes it is wait. But our heavenly Father is there even in the most troubling of circumstances.
Are you ready to renew or increase your commitment to prayer? Do you want contentment in your heart and peace in your world? If your answer is yes - or even maybe - keep reading and discover God's remarkable gift called prayer. It will change your life, the lives around you, and even the course of history.
- Shirley Dobson, Chairman
Dr. Jack Graham
Our world is in turmoil... unstable... full of pressures and uncertainties. And sometimes the problems can seem so overwhelming we wonder if there are any answers to the needs, to the troubles, to the tribulations we face. But there is an answer. And that answer can be found in prayer. In fact, God is looking for people like you and me who will so connect with Him in prayer, that He can unleash His power through us. It is a power to overcome any trial, any difficulty, and any challenge. It's a power that can change our nation, and our world!
Join me as we pray for America on the National Day of Prayer, Thursday, May 7th!
Dr. Jack Graham, Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer:
We thank you for the many blessings You have poured out on America and we praise You for Your mercy.
You have said: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” We confess, O Lord, our national and personal sins. We repent and ask forgiveness for all actions that dishonor You.
O God, bless our President and other leaders. Provide them with wisdom and move them to honor You.
Deliver this great nation from all our enemies as we recommit ourselves to trust, serve and obey Your commands.
We pray in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Racing legend, Darrell Waltrip has made headlines again with his recent comments at the National Prayer Breakfast and there is no question that he has fully utilized the platform given him to share his love for Jesus Christ. So, we are delighted that Mr. Waltrip has made another bold stand for his faith by calling on all Americans to unite in prayer on the 64th annual National Day of Prayer (Thursday, May 7).
Darrell’s success as a former 3-time NASCAR champion, a television race commentator with the Fox Broadcasting Company, and columnist at Foxsports.com has given him a great deal of influence within the world of NASCAR (the biggest spectator sport in America). Darrell expressed great enthusiasm to see the National Day of Prayer car racing at Talladega Super Speedway, which motivated him to join in this historic call to prayer. In this commercial (below), Darrell talks about the vital role that prayer has played throughout his life saying that “no moment is more significant than one moment spent on your knees in prayer.”
Below you will find a new PSA (Public Service Announcement - audio and video) that you can use to help promote your prayer event:
Our Father and Our God,
We praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve.
Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face.
Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace.
We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it.
You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord.
This we pray in Your holy name, Amen.
- Billy Graham
I learned to depend on the Lord early in my childhood. During those turbulent years, my mother held our little family together. Though she wasn’t a Christian at the time, she knew she needed all the help she could get as she raised her children. So she sent my brother and me to church every Sunday, and it was there that I was introduced to Jesus Christ and invited Him into my heart.
As I learned how to pray and began speaking to the Lord, I sensed His love and care for me. Amid the chaos of our disintegrating family, this little girl found hope and comfort in Jesus. I’ve been praying and relying on Him ever since.
Prayer is our pathway not only to divine protection, but also to a personal, intimate relationship with God. That’s why I am so honored to be in my 23rd year as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. I count it a privilege to play a small part in calling people of faith to their knees.
I remember vividly the day when I was called to lead this prayer ministry that is actively engaged in praying for our nation’s leaders. Bill and Vonette Bright had invited my husband, Jim, and me to their home in 1989. Vonette, who had been the chairman of the National Day of Prayer for eight years, turned to me and said, “Shirley, I feel that the Lord wants you to succeed me as the chairman.”
I was shocked! “Oh no, Vonette,” I said. “I just couldn’t take on anything of that magnitude.” I had my hands full as the wife of a busy husband, and I was also a member of the board for his international ministry. Besides, who could fill the shoes of Vonette Bright?
So, initially, I turned her down graciously. But as I was driving home, I sensed God saying: “Shirley, you didn’t talk to Me about Vonette’s request. You haven’t even prayed about it. America’s leaders need prayer.”
So I committed to pray about it. And I asked that if the Lord really was directing me to take on this load, Jim would be in favor of it.
I expected Jim to say, “Shirley, we have all we can handle, and it would be very difficult for us to add anything else right now.” Instead, he stunned me with his response. He was sitting at his desk, and he leaned back in his chair, clasped his hands behind his head, looked straight at me and said, “Shirley, what more important ministry could you be involved in than calling the nation to prayer?”
In September of 1991, I started the new position. Looking back over the years, it is amazing to see how the Lord has blessed and grown the National Day of Prayer. This year, on the first Thursday of May, we had some 42,000 prayer gatherings across the nation.
The Lord Jesus demonstrated the significance of prayer. He “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). He “went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12). He even told His disciples the parable about justice for the persistent widow “to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
If Christians would pray as Jesus instructed us, it would change our lives—and the course of history. Our nation’s leaders are openly asking for prayer from the public. As a matter of fact, members of both houses of Congress met recently in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda for a time of prayer and reconciliation. In the midst of our tumultuous times, God may be preparing hearts for a new openness to seeking Him through the lifeline of prayer.
The Apostle Paul urged that “petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior” (1 Timothy 2:1-3). Let’s please God by actively seeking, through prayer, “peaceful and quiet lives” for our nation and its leaders.
Indeed, we must remain in fervent prayer for those who serve as representatives of the people, even if we do not agree with all the decisions those in authority are making—which is all the more reason to pray for them.
I have spent a great deal of time over the years with our nation’s leaders. It has been an honor and a privilege to pray with them. Often their personal lives are under constant attack, with little balance between work and family time. The demands of their positions are great, and rarely do they receive thanks from the individuals they represent. They are regularly burdened and live in a perpetual state of urgency because of the far-reaching implications of their decisions. Loneliness and feelings of isolation are common.
Not long ago, my team and I spent five days going office to office just to pray with congressional representatives and their staffs. Many expected us to present an agenda with a list of demands. Instead, the walls came down as we shared our gratitude and our desire to bless them with intercession, showing authentic concern for their well-being.
One of our team members shared with me that they had gone to the office of a senator from New York. He was leaving for a very important meeting for which he was already late, so he couldn’t stop to talk. Our team explained that they were simply there to pray and bless him and his staff. The senator smiled, exchanged a few pleasantries and swiftly exited. Our team then engaged the senator’s staff and began to pray with them.
At that moment, the senator returned to the room and dropped to his knees. He said he couldn’t proceed with the decisions of the day without the blessing of Almighty God to guide him. Our prayer team gathered around him and asked God to give him wisdom and discernment.
He hugged the members of our group and then headed to a debate on the sanctity of human life. Our team had no idea what was before him when they entered his office that morning. But out of obedience to pray for our leaders, they went. As a result, a radical abortion bill was defeated in the Senate that day.
Prayer works, and it is transforming homes and communities across the globe. If God’s people will lift up every person who leads our churches, cities, states and yes, even our nation, God will hear and will heal our land. Are you ready to know certain peace in uncertain times? Good. It’s time to pray. ©2014 Shirley Dobson
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Shirley Dobson is the wife of psychologist and author Dr. James C. Dobson and has served as chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force since 1991. Several million people participate every year in this call to prayer for our nation, its leaders and citizens. To learn more or to get involved, visit NationalDayofPrayer.org.