Tens of thousands of local events are scheduled tomorrow to recognize the 2013 National Day of Prayer.
A special observance is scheduled from 9 a.m. until noon in the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill as a focal point for the local assemblies at churches, courthouses and other public places.
Meanwhile, a privately sponsored National Day of Prayer and Fasting is being planned for Sept. 11.
Today, President Obama issued a statement endorsing the National Day of Prayer, but he excised virtually any reference to Christianity, the primary faith of the nation’s founders.
President George W. Bush’s proclamations routinely included references to Christian faith.
“By surrendering our lives to our loving Father,” Bush said in his 2008 statement, “we learn to serve His eternal purposes, and we are strengthened, refreshed, and ready for all that may come.”
Bush’s comments also included references to the Bible. He cited Psalm 28:7, which states, “The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.”
Bush also said, “According to Scripture, ‘the Lord is near to all who call upon Him. … He also will hear their cry, and save them.'”
Obama emulated some of those ideas in his first proclamation, in 2009, citing the prayers of the Continental Congress and President Lincoln’s call for prayer during the Civil War.
But he started turning the next year, mentioning “God” only twice, asking for “blessings” and “guidance.”
The closest reference to the nation’s Christian heritage was a reference that the U.S. “counts freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion among its most fundamental principles.”
By 2012, Obama’s proclamation was giving thanks “for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain.”
This year, his text includes “faith” only to reference it as “our faith” and recognizes “God” only for delivering liberties and guidance. The nation’s Christian heritage is referenced only in his statement that “the earliest settlers prayed that they would ‘rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.”
“Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness,” said the president.
Americans have long turned to prayer both in times of joy and times of sorrow. On their voyage to the New World, the earliest settlers prayed that they would “rejoice together, mourn together, labor, and suffer together, always having before our eyes our commission and community in the work.” From that day forward, Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose.
Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness.
All of us have the freedom to pray and exercise our faiths openly. Our laws protect these God-given liberties, and rightly so. Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship.
On this day, let us remember in our thoughts and prayers all those affected by recent events, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, the Newtown, Connecticut shootings, and the explosion in West, Texas. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way to protect their fellow Americans. Let us also pray for the safety of our brave men and women in uniform and their families who serve and sacrifice for our country. Let us come together to pray for peace and goodwill today and in the days ahead as we work to meet the great challenges of our time.
The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a “National Day of Prayer.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2, 2013, as a National Day of Prayer. I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God’s continued guidance, mercy, and protection.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
Coinciding with the National Day of Prayer, a 72-hour international call to repent, fast and pray has been called by Christians in Australia for April 30 to May 2, according to Breaking Christian News.
In asking for support for the 9/11 National Day of Prayer and Fasting, organized by WND CEO Joseph Farah, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., entered a statement into the Congressional Record.
She pointed out that the future of a nation appears to be up to Christians.
“I join together with other Americans who have called for September 11, 2013, to be set aside as a day for personal prayer, reflection and fasting, for ourselves and for our nation,” Bachmann said in a statement. “At this time of national mourning, as we search for comfort in the aftermath of this loss of innocent life, we would be wise to consider afresh 2 Chronicles 7:14: ‘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 sin and will heal their land.’ As we humble ourselves and pray and seek God’s face and turn from our wicked ways, we can take assurance from the Holy Scripture that God has promised to hear from heaven, will forgive our sin, and will heal our land.”
Jonathan Cahn, the No. 1 bestselling Christian author of 2012 and 2013 with “The Harbinger,” also is on board for the September event.
So is Pastor Greg Laurie of Harvest Fellowship, known for massive evangelistic events that fill the largest stadiums and arenas in the country. He is also a weekly faith commentator for WND and the honorary national chairman of the 62nd annual National Day of Prayer called for May 2. The organizers of the May 2 event have pledged to shift their attention to the 9/11/13 project after May 2.
“If we pray, God will hear,” Laurie said. “When He hears, who knows what He might do?”
In his column on WND, Chuck Norris said: “If the greatest leaders in the history of our country, particularly our founders, called upon the Almighty for heavenly assistance in the most critical and perilous of times and experienced His hand of deliverance, wouldn’t this season in our country’s history warrant exactly the same? Maybe more now than every before?
“Because of the intense strongholds we face as a nation, WND Editor Joseph Farah and thousands of others across the land are calling up America’s spiritual reserves, challenging our spiritual fervor and cranking up our spiritual warfare by also declaring a National Day of Prayer and Fasting – and on what better day than Sept. 11, 2013?” he continued. “You can register your intent to participate and help spread the plan virally by going to 911DayofPrayer.com.”
Farah’s action plan:
- Make a note on your calendar now to join in the commitment to participate;
- Help spread the word to the remnant of Americans who understand what the nation is up against on Facebook and Twitter and by word of mouth;
- Talk to pastors and Bible study leaders and get them on board;
- Pray daily for believers across the nation to take serious the promise of II Chronicles 7:14 and follow its prescription;
- Sign up to register your commitment of support and your intention to participate.
“We’ve got our instructions,” said Farah of II Chronicles 7:14. “God is waiting on us to act – His people. He’s not waiting on the whole world to act. He’s not waiting on a majority of Americans to act. He’s waiting on us – his children, his followers, his believers.”
Norris quoted Benjamin Franklin’s call for God’s leadership at the 1787 Constitutional Convention:
“I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that ‘except the Lord build the House they labour in vain that build it.’ … I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business…”