While I have been disappointed in recent years that our current President has de-emphasized the importance of this event on a national level, I am encouraged by the change in approach from the White House this year.
This past week, the President did reverse his previous stance, and actually proclaim Thursday, May 5th, as a National Day of Prayer. Well, sort of… He did so IF one can call his following carefully chosen words an actual call to prayer:
"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."
The truth is, people will always take their queue from their leaders. Whenever they see our leadership downplaying such a day, they will invariably follow suit. Conversely, whenever our leadership emphasizes the significance of such a day, most people will respond accordingly.
I am encouraged also by the recent overturning of a lower court’s ruling that the National Day of Prayer is somehow unconstitutional: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2011-04-15-prayer_court_14_ST_N.htm.) Having the President call for a National Day of Prayer is in no way a violation of the U.S. Constitution. The appeals court has now affirmed this.
One thing is for certain, however. God’s people can always pray, whether or not their government leaders do! Furthermore, God’s people can always pray even if their government leaders presume to tell them they cannot!
Perhaps the real question is whether or not God’s people WILL pray. Unfortunately, it seems, too many are concerned about whether they CAN pray and less concerned about whether they actually DO pray! The following classic story serves to illustrate this point well.
TEXAS BEER JOINT SUES CHURCH OVER LIGHTNING STRIKE!
In Dry Gulch, Texas, the local bar began construction on an expansion of their building in order to increase their business.
In response, the local Baptist Church started a campaign to block the bar from expanding, complete with petitions and prayers.
Work progressed right up until the week before the grand reopening, when lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground!
After the bar burned to the ground by a lightning strike, the church folks were rather smug in their outlook, bragging about "the power of prayer". Until, that is, the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church "was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means."
In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all
responsibility and/or any connection to the building's demise.
The judge read through the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's reply, and at the opening hearing, he gave the following opening comment:
"I don't know how I'm going to decide this, but I will say this up front. It appears from the paperwork that we have a bar owner who now believes strongly in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that now does not!"
Prayer is not a political football. Nor is it a legal one. Prayer is not a matter of expedience. Prayer is a privilege and a responsibility. And God’s word makes this plain.
When the children of Israel dedicated their first temple under King Solomon, the Lord had the following to say to them. Speaking to Solomon, their leader, He said:
13" When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people,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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place." (2 Chronicles 7:13-15).