The Dirt

John Bornschein

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_final The Dirt

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