Every year, the National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force facilitates several events on Capitol Hill including the National Observance at the Cannon House Office Building. With speakers like Tony Evans, Chuck Swindoll, Oliver North, Max Lucado, Beth Moore, and Franklin Graham, the expectations are always high and the response is overwhelming. More than five hundred thousand people tune in live each year, via video stream and televised broadcast, 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 65th 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. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, kicked off the momentous celebration with a warm greeting and introduction of Rabbi Jonathan Cahn. She then had everyone on the edge of their seats when she made the following statement:
“In 1988, the late Vonette Bright began petitioning Members of Congress to support a bill that would designate the first Thursday in May as the annual National Day of Prayer. By a joint resolution of the United States Congress, it was signed into law by President Reagan on May 8th of that year.
Mrs. Bright continued in leadership until 1991. Then she and the National Prayer Committee asked me to succeed her as chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. After much prayer and careful consideration, I accepted the responsibility and have now served for 25 consecutive years. The Day of Prayer has been observed by more than 33 million people at 630,000 prayer gatherings around the world…and today, another chapter begins.
I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of Dr. Billy Graham, will succeed me as the new chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. It is imperative that we preserve this American heritage to insure that this powerful expression of our religious freedom will continue for generations to come. I couldn’t be more grateful that the Lord has laid upon Anne the mantle of leadership for national prayer. She is eminently qualified to serve the nation in this capacity. We honor her for accepting this responsibility.”
Immediately, the audience was surprised and yet greatly encouraged by the announcement. A new chapter begins after a quarter century as the mantle of leadership passes to Billy Graham’s daughter.
This transition of leadership seems fitting given the fact that it was in 1952 when House Speaker Sam Rayburn invited the Reverend Billy Graham to Washington D.C. and on the steps of the Capitol in February of that year, he delivered a message at the young age of 32 that transformed a city and ultimately a nation. As a result, a bill calling for an annual National Day of Prayer, co-sponsored by Percy Priest and Senator Frank Carlson, and publicly endorsed by Conrad Hilton (who took out a full page ad of Uncle Sam on his knees in prayer) was passed through Congress and then signed by President Harry Truman. The bill was passed April 17, 1952.
The National Observance continued and Rabbi Cahn (author of The Harbinger) took the podium first and blessed the occasion with eloquent words and a personal challenge for how we should view the exercise of prayer and solemn assembly. He 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 and not just in Washington D.C.
The line-up of speakers that followed were second to none with each building on the other, emphasizing repentance and a return to the God of our Fathers. After a series of convicting messages and prayers of reverence to the Almighty, Dr. Tony Evans, the 2016 Honorary Chairman, concluded the gathering with the National Prayer that was spoken aloud in unison by the standing-room only crowd that had remained steadfast throughout the full 3-hour plus gathering.
It was a powerful and fitting way to conclude the National Observance while serving as a springboard to more than 47,000 similar gatherings that took place from coast to coast. In addition, an estimated 90 nations participated in the annual observance along with South Korea, India and Australia where prayer coordinators mobilized thousands to fast and pray for the United States. From pilots flying over capital cities to petition from above, to balloon launches, parades, park gatherings and more, there were millions of prayers lifted up at an unprecedented level. President Barack H. Obama and all 50 Governors unanimously called on Americans to pray. Truly, the 65th annual National Day of Prayer was a historic moment in time for God’s church, across the oceans, to unite in prayer in One Voice. It was the largest such day of prayer in the modern era and already, many have started their planning efforts for May 4, 2017.
Immediately following the National Day of Prayer, the NDP Task Force, announced that it was partnering with Pulse Ministries to rally intercessors far and wide back to Washington D.C., July 14-17 (National Prayer Summit and Together 2016) for what will be one of the largest gatherings of prayer at the National Mall. It is quite clear that the National Day of Prayer was not the end but only the beginning - a catalyst for a prayer mobilization effort that could truly transform the cultural landscape across this great land.
Be sure to visit, www.NationalDayofPrayer.org for upcoming details on how you can get involved.
- John Bornschein, Vice Chairman
Americans have championed religious freedom since our earliest days. Many who first sought our shores were fleeing tyranny in search of a land where they could attain liberty and exercise their faith without constraint. As our forefathers labored to lay the groundwork for our republic, they asked God to illuminate their understanding and boldly spoke of His guidance and care. Through the years, personal and corporate prayer has been a source of courage and endurance in affliction, direction and wisdom in uncertainty, and hope and confidence in adversity. In times of prosperity, prayer has conveyed our humble gratitude for our good fortune.
That commitment to faith and prayer has been instrumental in bringing us to this point in history and must not be forgotten. If we are to retain our strength of character, maintain the trust we have been given to uphold, and advance the tenets of our republic, it is necessary to preserve this vital aspect of American life.
Sixty-five years ago, Congress established an annual “National Day of Prayer,” recognizing our heritage of prayer and honoring the religious freedom that is treasured by our citizens. On May 5, 1988, Public Law 100-307 set aside the first Thursday of each May for this yearly observance. Three years later, the late Vonette Bright and the National Prayer Committee asked me to serve as the Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, to ensure this call to solemn assembly would be observed for generations to come. It was an assignment from God.
In September of 1991, I started the new position. I was to call the nation to prayer with only $6,000 in the bank and the help of one volunteer. I sought the Lord and was reminded that little is much if God is in it…and He was! This year marks my 25th year as the Chairman of the National Day of Prayer and as I look back over the years, it is amazing to see how the Lord has blessed and grown this ministry to our nation. We now have eight incredible National Area Leaders who lead tens of thousands of volunteers. We have had as many has 43,000 prayer gatherings on the First Thursday of May with millions united in repentance before God. The National Observance is now broadcast into 90 countries around the world and lives are being changed and hearts transformed by this growing movement of prayer.
We must not forget America’s heritage. This nation was birthed in prayer and founded on the God of the Bible…on His Biblical principles and His moral values. Unfortunately, many have turned their backs on the Creator and we are reaping the consequences. Other nations have also defied Jehovah at their peril. The Scriptures tell of one such wicked city called Nineveh where the people turned away from God and were steeped in all kinds of idolatry and immorality. God said evil had become so prevalent in the land that He determined to destroy it. He told the Prophet Jonah to go to Nineveh and warn the people and their king that destruction would fall on their city. As we all know, they repented, cried out for mercy and forgiveness and God spared them.
This is why the National Day of Prayer exists, and why I have led it for 25 years. I have longed to see America turn back to its spiritual roots. II Chronicles 7:14 tells us that “If my people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and will heal their land.”
I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that God still hears the cries of His people. We desperately need His healing touch as our nation is drifting away from His righteousness and biblical teachings. Now is the time for us to be united in repentance before the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, just as Nineveh did, and I believe the time has come for me to pass the baton to a leader who shares this vision with me. We need someone who will bring us before the throne of the King of kings in humility and take up the mantle in such a critical hour, so that generations to come will praise and honor the Lord. It is time to cry out to Him in desperation and we need a passionate chairman who will champion this cause without wavering.
I have been in prayer for many months, seeking whom God would anoint for that responsibility. He has answered…and called Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz to be the next Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, and she has graciously accepted.
Let me share with you just a little about this incredible woman of faith. Anne Graham Lotz is called “the best preacher in the family” by her father, Billy Graham. In fact, the New York Times named Anne as one of the five most influential evangelists of her generation. She is a prayer warrior, a powerful speaker, a best-selling author of many much loved books, and the founder and president of her own organization, AnGeL Ministries. Her newest release is called, The Daniel Prayer. I can’t wait to read it.
Anne and her late husband, Dr. Danny Lotz, have three grown children and three grandchildren.
I know that God has called the right person for such a time as this and in my new position as Chairman Emeritus, she will have my full support. I will also continue to champion the cause of prayer…America’s Greatest Hope. Join with me in congratulating Mrs. Anne Graham Lotz!
As a friend of this ministry, please know that we need your commitment and support more than ever. In the midst of change, it is tempting to pull back with a “wait and see” perspective. However, now is the time to move forward courageously with firm resolve. Will you help us continue this Legacy of Prayer in our nation? I am asking you to come alongside us as a ministry partner. Your contributions will enable us to continue to call our nation to intercession for generations to come. Thank you for standing with us.
In closing, I want to thank those of you who have stood with me over these many years – beginning with my beloved husband, Jim – my gifted vice chairman, John Bornschein – my loyal Task Force – the dedicated National Area Leaders and tireless State and Regional Coordinators – the supportive National Prayer Committee and board of directors – my great friends on the Colorado Council for the National Day of Prayer – our faithful volunteers and supporters, and the many Congressmen who have sponsored the Capitol Hill Prayer Service. They have been an incredibly effective team. It has been my privilege and honor to serve you and the body of Christ for these 25 years. May God bless you and may God bless America (Psalms 33:12)!
Mrs. James C. Dobson (Shirley)
National Day of Prayer Task Force
P.S. Look for more details on this transition in forthcoming emails and letters from our offices. It is our desire to keep you informed throughout this process.
2017 NATIONAL OBSERVANCE LIVE FEED
Join Rep. Robert Aderholt, Dr. Tony Evans, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, Mrs. Shirley Dobson, Rep. Louie Gohmert, Senate Chaplain Barry Black, Dr. James Dobson, Anne Graham Lotz, Veritas, Dr. Dick Eastman, Dr. David Butts, Rev. John Bornschein, and more for the 65th annual National Day of Prayer Observance in Washington D.C.
When: Thursday, May 5, 2016
- Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill
- 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon ET LIVE
- This special event will be broadcast live on this web page and on GOD TV, repeating throughout the day.
GOD TV is available throughout America on DIRECTV, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on channel 365. To become a DIRECTV customer contact 888-238-7177 or log on to www.directv.com. Please note that GOD TV is only available to customers who have DIRECTV HD equipment and are subscribed to HD Access.