Prayer in America on The National Day of Prayer

amy-mcdonald-pic.jpgEach year on the first Thursday of May, thousands of volunteer leaders from all fifty states and U.S. territories lead gatherings to observe the annual National Day of Prayer. The national observance in the U.S. Capitol is one expression, and we’ve shared what an impact that it has, reaching millions with the challenge to pray for America. But we can’t forget about the nearly 60,000 local events that take place each year through the tireless efforts of our volunteers. At thousands of gatherings, from prayer breakfast and lunch gatherings, to groups coming together in state capital buildings, city halls, and local churches – God’s people gather to pray and to practice Jesus’ command to Love One Another.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve received dozens of accounts of these local gatherings – but there are hundreds of stories still to be told! We have purposed this year, to share more of your stories, and to highlight the amazing ways that God is moving in your communities and inyour lives. For example, gatherings like the one held at the Iowa State Capitol. Brenda Brown, our state coordinator shared: “We started with the Color Guard and we honored the flags with the pledge of allegiance. We then did twenty-five minutes of worship there in the Rotunda, I read the proclamation that the President presented and put the local proclamation out for all to see. We then had a small group of youth sing and recite multiple bible verses and had Pastor Christopher Olsen give a word on Loving One Another, ten local pastors then got up and prayed over our state and nation.” We praise God for the work that He's doing in Des Moines, Iowa! 

Carla Varga, one of our coordinators in Cleveland, Ohio wrote: “We had a wonderful four-hour event in our City Hall Rotunda! We had multi-cultural, multi-generational and multi-denominations represented. It was a beautiful expression of the Body of Christ coming together to pray, worship and love on one another! After the event was over we were already invited to come back next year! The praying church in Cleveland/Northeast Ohio is rising!” We praise God for how He is moving in Ohio!

We want to hear more! Unfortunately, time limits us today. But the stories must be told! And so we’ve asked Amy McDonald, our communications intern for this summer, to focus a good deal of her time on following up with many of you on the stories you’ve shared with us – stories about prayer, and what God is doing in your communities. Stories about our coordinators and the work that they do to rally prayer all year round.

Follow along as we share these in our communications over the next several weeks. Our prayer is that you will be encouraged and gain inspiration from others who are mobilizing unified public prayer in their own towns, cities, and counties across our nation.


Dion Elmore

Vice President, National Day of Prayer Task Force

P.S. Our national team is excited about the next generation of leaders that God is raising up to carry the banner of the National Day of Prayer forward into the future. We’ve asked Amy to share a little about herself and her heart for prayer and communications – to tell a little of her story. Please pray for her as she presses this summer into this important assignment.

Meet our Communications Intern - Amy McDonald

I am a Mass Communication major at Georgia College in Milledgeville, Georgia where I will be entering my senior year in the fall - and I am thrilled to begin serving as a communications intern at NDP.

In my life, the biggest decision I’ve made in the past few years is choosing where to go to college. While I spent two years expecting God to open the door for my dream school, I rarely prayed about the decision, choosing instead to rely on my selfish expectation that God would reward me for good behavior and church attendance with a scholarship to my prestigious, and very expensive, dream school.

I was accepted into my dream school as well as a significantly less prestigious state school that I arrogantly turned my nose up at while applying, and God did bless me with a scholarship that made the cost of my dream school comparable to that of the public university. My mentor asked me one question after I laid out my confused heart to her over our weekly breakfast. “Have you prayed about it?” she asked. She almost didn’t need to, because we both knew the answer. It just needed to be said aloud.  No.  I had been relying on a selfish expectation rather than a prayer. After that, I moved from an expectation of blessing to genuinely praying and asking God to “change my heart to align with Your will.”

Words are important. The words of my prayer molded a different heart and redirected my motivation. One was self-serving; expecting God to give me what I want because I know He can. But just because as a child I expected my earthly father to give me ice cream for breakfast, does not guarantee he will. My new prayer, however, reminded me that God is good in every circumstance and I should be disciplined in my prayers and trust. When I would pray about college, I would ask God to change my heart because I wanted to be excited and invested in whatever good plan was in store for my college career.

After a lot of prayer and a lot of silence and listening, I felt God leading me to the smaller state school. Yes, I was humbled not going to an institution I could name drop in a conversation to gain clout, but I went in with a changed heart, awaiting God’s direction and excited for the good things in store for me. Those words, and the change of heart that followed, changed the course of my life in ways I will never fully comprehend. Words have been playing a central role in my life from my earliest memories. As a child I was continually asking my parents to read me another book, to tell me what a word in conversation meant and to drive me back to the library to return my stack of books and get a few dozen more. I could tell a thousand stories about all the times I was thrilled to learn a new word or listened to a podcast about etymologies while I completed my chores. 

However, my love for words pales in comparison to my belief of their importance. God created people to respond to words, especially written words. God created with words, spoke to prophets with specific words for the situation and gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments—again, words. Humanity would struggle if we constantly tried to discern God’s will through crushed leaves or a scattering of bones, so God met us in our need and breathed divine inspirations into the authors of the Bible. It is no mistake we have scripture—words are important.

Some of my favorite words are found in the Psalms. I grew up listening to John Denver, Michael W. Smith and my grandmother reading Robert Louis Stevenson poems to me, so when I began to open my Bible as a child, the Psalms drew me in with the familiar format of ideas and emotions. The psalmist’s anger, ecstasy, reverence and sometimes outright brazenness towards Lord shocked me at first—it was a far cry from the shallow and dry prayers of “please bless this food we are about to eat, amen.” My prayers have been shaped by the example of the psalmist praying with a heart wide open to God, being honest about the season of life while still recognizing God’s omnipotent power, regardless of the situation. I am grateful for this example, because I know God can handle my prayers when life is ugly or I am acting out of a lack of faith or trust. Praying at a gut-honest level also affirms my desperate need for transformation in the Lord and allows me to turn over my ego and other sins to God and ask for restoration, just as the psalmist did time and time again.

I have also been shaped by the example of mature believers acting out of a reverence for the power of their words. I’ve spent six years with my mentor, observing how she listens to me for a while, ponders, then asks a question or gives me scripture that challenges my thoughts on how I am acting and encourages me to live radically different than some of my peers because of my belief in Christ. I’ve spent two years listening to my pastor take long pauses in his sermons in order to think carefully about what he is going to say next, ensuring he is speaking godly truth to his flock.

There are countless others I know living out Paul’s exhortation to guard our tongues and make ourselves known as believers through the word of our testimonies. However, there is a more important word. “The Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We observed His glory, the glory as the One and Only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14, HCSB. This is the Word worth everything—our reverence, our joy or devotion. And through the words of our testimonies and prayers, we can share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with others and impact our communities, nation and world through the words we pray.