Wednesday, April 30, 2014

National Day of Prayer - May 1, 2014

A Time of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer for our nation is scheduled for Thursday, May 1st. This is a day of prayer that many believers have come to take for granted and possibly overlook entirely. I will admit that as a pastor this day should be on my radar all the time, but had not one of my deacons mentioned it to me I would have missed it. Lord forgive my seemingly ignorant apathy toward such a relevant and purposeful event that believers must again embrace and make important!

Why is the National Day of Prayer important? Well as we go back through our nation’s history we can see that prayer was part of how our Founding Fathers shaped and formed this nation. Five weeks into the creation/writing of our nation’s Constitution at the Constitutional Congress of 1787 the delegates had come to an impasse and things were not looking positive for any sort of solution when Benjamin Franklin issued this challenge. “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…” [emphasis mine] Franklin called for prayer and for the intervention of the Almighty in the creation of the document we hold dearest to our hearts as Americans. Mr. Franklin believed that God desired to be active in the formation and the governance of this new nation. He was simply asking for the divine intervention and assistance in what proved to be the most effective and lasting act of freedom and liberty in the history of the world.

If our Founding Fathers believed prayer was important and that God DID desire to be a part of our lives, then why do we treat prayer with such apathy today? Simply put, prayer is communication with God. Prayer is humanity’s connection to its Creator and how we can express our heart to Him. Prayer is NOT to reveal our requests to God but its focus is to bring us into a more intimate communion with our Heavenly Father.

Jesus illustrates this when He gives instruction on ‘how’ to pray to His disciples: “Pray like this: “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” Matthew 6:9-13 [NLT]

So Jesus teaches that prayer is not about seeking God to grant our wishes or desires, but that prayer is about our focus on God and His will for His kingdom’s sake and purpose. Prayer is all about our consent His will. When the believer prays we are saying:
1)      That we are placing what we need in God’s hands.
2)      That we are admitting that the decisions we need to make are not clear and we seek His guidance.
3)      That we are confessing our situation is too much for us to handle within our own mind and that we need His strength and wisdom to direct our path.

Tomorrow is a day set aside within our nation to go to God in prayer, but as a pastor I must insist that this should be a daily, if not many times per day activity by each and every believer! Tomorrow is a day of national focus on prayer and recognizing the Sovereign who reigns, let’s use this day to set an example for others and lay a foundation that recognizes that God is greater and that we need Him to intervene in our lives! That we place all of our lives within His hands, that we admit we need his wisdom and counsel in our lives and that life is unmanageable for us unless He guides and directs our path.

Recently our church adopted a new purpose statement in within that purpose statement we affirmed that we would bathe everything of who we are as believers in prayer…that prayer was essential to the life of the believer and for our relationship with God. Let us become a fellowship known for our deep and abiding trust in our God through a rich prayer life!

Bobby Stults
Oak Park Baptist Church

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