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.
I have had the amazing privilege of serving here at the National Day of Prayer Task Force for 11 years. It is hard to believe that over a decade has passed since Mrs. Shirley Dobson asked me to be part of this ministry to our nation.
I didn’t realize how nominal my prayer walk really was until I was surrounded by individuals who truly modeled the actions of Christ in daily intercession for others and our nation. I was attending church. I had served in missions and had even held positions with other prominent ministries, but prayer was not a focus in my walk with Jesus. In fact, truth be told, there is little emphasis on the subject even in seminary.
But there I was, making a commitment to join a team of praying people. I thought they were administrators of prayer activities. Little did I know that when Shirley Dobson spoke about prayer, she really meant it. In fact, not only did the team pray in the mornings, they were praying throughout the day – sometimes all day long – without food even. Others, who were volunteer leaders for the ministry across the nation, would travel to the office and pray all night long, taking shifts to ensure the full 24-hour day was covered with words of praise and adoration for the King of kings.
Honestly, I had no idea what I had just signed up for. I could appreciate ministry, but I did not know that this was what was expected of me as a newly commissioned prayer warrior.
After the initial shock wore off, I can tell you that this has become one of the greatest and most life-fulfilling journeys of my life. I never knew what I was missing until I joined this incredible team. The network of National Day of Prayer volunteers, from coast to coast, has changed my life as they cry out to Almighty God on behalf of others. They pray with expectation and I believe that God has stayed His holy hand of judgment on this nation time and time again because of their faithfulness to keep the altar of incense burning brightly. You see, if we don’t praise Him, the rocks will and I certainly don’t want the rocks crying out to Him when it is our blessing and assignment to do so.
The Prayer Room at the National Day of Prayer offices holds a special place in my heart. The room isn’t very large, yet people have traveled from around the country to pray within these four walls. So, let me give you a glimpse of what you would find if you were to enter the room right now.
As you enter the Prayer Room, just to your left and mounted on the wall is an original text of Jeremiah 29:11-13 from the 1587 Bishops’ Bible – a gift from Life Action Ministries. Below this image you will find a large Bible, currently opened to Psalm 44 and 45. To your immediate right, you will find a large vase sitting on the floor. This is where we encourage our staff to write down their burdens, anxieties, wounds, and hurts and place those in this long-necked, large vase so that once inserted, they are never to be drawn out again – a symbol of surrender to the Lord. Moving forward, you will find 3 wooden containers, decorated and inscribed with Scripture. Inside are the written prayers of praise from our staff and guests. These are a result of moments when, like King David, we write letters of love and adoration to the Lord.
Continuing toward the back wall, you will find a wooden chest and inside are the prayer requests from every person who writes to our ministry. Each is printed and then placed within the chest for the next prayer team to cover, faithfully, before God. Hanging on the wall behind the chest is a large cross, but hanging on it is yet another, much smaller, hand-made cross that was hung there by a soldier who had just returned from Afghanistan. Immediately to your right, you will find a large prayer bench and inside, kneepads for those moments where only on our knees do we truly have a time of reverence before Him.
Then we come to one of my favorite resources in our Prayer Room. Sitting atop a small, wooden table, are two containers. One has water in it. The other has dirt in it. At first glance, you might think it odd. But, after its explanation, you will understand the significance it has to all of us here at the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
The dirt looks like strata layers, but it is actually a collection of soil from all 50 states. The water container next to it is also a collection of water from all 50 states. This unique display was made possible by the volunteer prayer leaders from each of the states who visited and graciously accepted our odd request to journey with dirt and water in their luggage. This collection has provided a very tangible backdrop for our team as we enter the Prayer Room each day. Not only do we lift up the personal requests that come in through mail and email, we are also reminded of the need to lift up our nation every single day. Sometimes we lay hands on the jar as if clasping the whole country at one moment in prayer and other times it serves as a symbol to us of the many beautiful aspects of our great nation and its people – a blend of many colors, textures and types.
I have witnessed miracles happen here and we have documented hundreds, maybe even thousands, of testimonies from around the United States of people who have been healed, lives that have been changed, commitments that have been made to Christ and communities that have been transformed – not because of a room – but by the power of God. He works through the prayers of His people no matter where they are, impacting eternity as a result. The power of prayer is amazing and wherever you are today, know that you are being covered in fervent intercession and God is working in and through your life to shape the course of history.
Someday, when your time allows, we invite you to come and join us here at the National Day of Prayer headquarters as we celebrate all that God is doing and pray without ceasing for generations not yet born. Then you too can hold The Dirt that has been a standing stone in our office commemorating God’s faithfulness to this, the greatest nation on earth.
May God bless you, faithful prayer warrior!
- John Bornschein, Vice Chairman
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
Second Chronicles 7:14 contains a remarkable promise from the Almighty God that speaks of forgiveness and healing for nations and for believers. But as awesome a prophetic promise as it is for America, many believers forget that it is a conditional promise. When believers meet His conditions, God will honor His promise.
As we look at this country, we see a nation that is morally bankrupt and in spiritual decline. Vulgarity, indecency, obscenities, lies, and corruption are today’s norm. Economic struggles, terrorist threats, sexual immorality, and the breakdown of families are just a few problems our country faces. We are a fractured people and nation, and we need healing through God’s divine intervention.
If My People, Who Are Called by My Name
The solutions to the nation’s problems lie not with politicians, reformers, educators, or business leaders, but with God’s people. Today, God’s people are those who worship Him, who accept and follow the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior – men and women who are His, not just in name, but in every aspect of their lives. In the darkest of situations, the Church can call out to God, and He will hear. This promise has not expired, but remains the key that makes it possible for all His people to take full responsibility for our condition and turn back the spiritual decline.
In fact, God has given the Church four conditions to seeing His healing come to our nation and our lives, and they are all centered in changes that take place in our hearts.
Will Humble Themselves
Humility means “to bend the knee, to bow down, to be in subjection to.” Humility is when we truly understand how poor and needy we are before God. Those who are humble know what it means to grieve over their sins and the sins of others. Simply put, humility means we are utterly dependent on God, which is the opposite of pride. James 4:16 tells us that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
Being humble is a difficult position, because we all tend to depend on any number of other factors than God only, whether it is our education, our career, our accomplishments and works, or our spiritual résumé. Both individually and as a Church there is a need to set aside our pride and humble ourselves. We must be willing to get on our faces before God, come to the cross of Christ with nothing but ourselves, and cry out to Him for a fresh outpouring of His Holy Spirit on our lives and out to the world.
To pray means to “ask” when you want God to do something for you and for others. The sovereign God has ordained prayer as the tool to get His work done, and He works in accord with the praying of His people and His own sovereign will. Prayer not only prepares us to do His work, but it is the work that must be done before any other work for the Lord is done. However, we in the Church tend to do almost anything but pray and often treat prayers as though it is a last resort rather than the first thing we should do. We as individuals and the Church must pray. All the major revivals have come because of believers who were serious enough to cry out to God in prayer.
And Seek My Face
God has said, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). God is personal, and we must deal with Him as a person. Too often, we seek the hand of God, which represents His works, instead of the face of God, which represents His nature and who He really is. When we seek His face, we see His holiness and love, which exposes our sin and depravity and selfishness. When we seek His face, we come with adoration and praise and worship, and we are changed and want to love Him more dearly and walk with Him more intimately. When we seek His face, we begin to hear His voice and discover His love and mercy that pardon us of all our sins.
And Turn From Their Wicked Ways
The psalmist said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18). If we want to experience the presence of God that changes our lives and the world, we need to get rid of anything that pushes Christ from the center of our lives. It might be our complacency, apathy, and indifference to what God is concerned about – the poor, the brokenhearted, the exploited, or the unemployed. God hates sin and all forms of wickedness, whether it is abortion, sexual sins, lying, cheating, drunkenness, drug abuse, hatred, jealousy, envy, and fits of rage. And He is not pleased with a Church that refuses to stand out against the many great evils of our day – believers who never fight for what is right, who compromise in an attempt not to offend, who carry no cross and stand for nothing.
Then Will I Hear From Heaven and Will Forgive Their Sin and Will Heal Their Land
From the place of authority, heaven itself, God will “hear,” which means “to listen to a point where you are moved to action.” In other words, He has promised to respond to their prayers. Evangelist Dwight L. Moody said that when God’s people fulfill His conditions, He “brings heaven within speaking distance.”
Standing by Faith
Usually Satan will try to suggest to you that your prayers were not heard. He will encourage you to look to the problems again and get your eyes off God. He will try to get you to talk as if you are not sure if your prayer is answered. Charles Cowman said, “The devil is not put to flight by a courteous request. He meets us at every turn, contends for every inch, and our progress has to be registered in heart’s blood and tears.”
Be prepared for warfare with Satan. Take firm control of your thought life. Think on positive things (Philippians 4:6-9). By praising God and confessing the relevant truths of the Word, cast down every thought that is contrary to your prayer. Keep speaking what the Word of God says on the issue at stake. “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23). Then, keep believing you will see your prayers answered.
Never lose sight of the fact that there may be specific reasons why a prayer is not answered immediately. God may desire that your faith be exercised and strengthened through your patient waiting on Him. Settle it in your mind that God is always true and faithful to His promises. It may be that your heart is not prepared for the answer to your prayer, but it is on the way.
George Müller said, “Many of the dear children of God stagger, because prayer is not at once answered. And because for weeks, months, and years prayer remains unanswered, they cease to ask God, and thus they lose the blessing that, had they persevered, they would assuredly have obtained. When the heart is prepared for the blessing, it will be given by God.”
If there are delays, let your faith be resolved to trust only God and be more fervent in your prayer. Keep on waiting upon God. Pray on and keep looking for answers. Only be sure you ask for things that are according to the mind of God. Exercise faith in the power and willingness of God to answer your requests. In His time and by His power, God will abundantly prove that your faith was not in vain.
- Lance Wubbels
Featured in the book “A Time for Prayer” published by Inspired Faith for the National Day of Prayer.
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.