National Day of Prayer 2011
60TH ANNUAL OBSERVANCE
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
“I WILL SAY OF THE LORD, HE IS MY REFUGE AND MY FORTRESS, MY GOD, IN WHOM I TRUST.” PSALM 91:2
The National Day of Prayer was formally established in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May.
The official website of the National Day of Prayer states: “The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people. The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.”
National Day of Prayer Official Site: http://nationaldayofprayer.org/
The 2011 National Day of Prayer Proclamation, issued by the President of the United States, reads:
Throughout our history, Americans have turned to prayer for strength, inspiration, and solidarity.
Prayer has played an important role in the American story and in shaping our Nation’s leaders. President Abraham Lincoln once said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for the day.” The late Coretta Scott King recounted a particularly difficult night, during the Montgomery bus boycott, when her husband, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., received a threatening phone call and prayed at the kitchen table, saying, “Lord, I have nothing left. I have nothing left. I have come to the point where I can’t face it alone.” Dr. King said, in that moment of prayer, he was filled with a sense of comfort and resolve, which his wife credited as a turning point in the civil rights movement.
It is thus fitting that, from the earliest years of our country’s history, Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role prayer has played in so many definitive moments in our history. On this National Day of Prayer, let us follow the example of President Lincoln and Dr. King. Let us be thankful for the liberty that allows people of all faiths to worship or not worship according to the dictates of their conscience, and let us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.
Let us pray for the men and women of our Armed Forces and the many selfless sacrifices they and their families make on behalf of our Nation. Let us pray for the police officers, firefighters, and other first responders who put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect their fellow citizens. And let us ask God for the sustenance and guidance for all of us to meet the great challenges we face as a Nation.
Let us remember in our thoughts and prayers those who have been affected by natural disasters at home and abroad in recent months, as well as those working tirelessly to render assistance. And, at a time when many around the world face uncertainty and unrest, but also hold resurgent hope for freedom and justice, let our prayers be with men and women everywhere who seek peace, human dignity, and the same rights we treasure here in America.
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, do hereby proclaim May 5, 2011, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith or conscience directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I ask all people of faith to join me in asking God for guidance, mercy, and protection for our Nation.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.
You can also view this Proclamation online by visiting http://nationaldayofprayer.org/news/2010-presidential-proclamation/2011-proclamation/
This year’s theme, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, is also the name of one of Martin Luther’s best known hymns (full lyrics here). It has been called the “Battle Hymn of the Reformation” and perhaps that is why it is so fitting as a theme.
We are undergoing a reformation of sorts in the country right now. People across the country are fed up with the status quo of things and are seeking meaning for their lives. Many of these people are turning to God and seeking a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They are not satisfied with “arm chair Christianity” any longer. Simply attending church once a week is not fulfilling.
One of the cornerstones of a personal relationship with is prayer. Jesus made a way for us to be intimate with the Father when He sprinkled His blood in the Heavenly Holy of Holies. He once and for all opened up unhindered access to God to each one of us through His blood. What a marvelous privilege we have been given!
Prayer is communication with God. It is fellowship with Him. It is a time to bring our concerns and petitions before Him, to thank Him for all He has done for us, and also to listen. Prayer is a two-way communication, a conversation… a dialogue rather than a monologue.
If we would learn to listen more than we speak, it could go a long way toward experiencing answered prayer. When we take the time to first receive the Father’s heart about something, our asking comes in to line with His will and desire for the situation, and it will surely come to pass.
Once we have listened and then asked in accordance with His will, our next step is to listen again, to see if God wants to use us in any way to bring about the answer to these prayers that we have prayed. Sometimes the burden to pray is just that, a burden to bring something before the Lord in prayer. But sometimes that burden in prayer then translates into Spirit-led action. We are His hands and feet in the earth, and most of what God accomplishes in this Church-age is going to be through His people.
On this ever-important National Day of Prayer, I encourage you bring your prayers and petitions for this country before the Lord, and then listen for what He would have you do to be a part in bringing those very prayers to pass.
Maybe it will be through a commitment to pray more, to regularly lift up this nation, its leaders and its people before Him. Maybe it will be to get involved in your church in a new capacity in order to minister to others. Maybe it will be to volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Maybe it will be to lobby your Congressperson. Maybe it will be to spend more time with your kids to ensure they grow up knowing they are loved and supported.
Let’s use this special day to lift all US citizens – children, adolescents, parents, the elderly, business people, civic leaders and decision-makers, pastors and clergy – before the Lord. And let’s take time to thank the Lord for all He has done for us as a nation and in our private lives. Thank Him for the protection and favor He has afforded us.
Join a National Day of Prayer event in your community or hold a prayer gathering in your home or workplace. Find a way to participate in this most important day.
Events being held throughout Minnesota, and in the Twin Cities Metro Area, can be found by visiting these links:
National Day of Prayer Event Locator: http://nationaldayofprayer.org/about/find-an-event/