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The National Day of Prayer to the Unknown God

From the website of the National Day of Prayer . . .

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our Task Force is a privately funded organization whose purpose is to encourage participation on the National Day of Prayer. It exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, to create appropriate materials, and to mobilize the Christian community to intercede for America’s leaders and its families. The Task Force represents a Judeo Christian expression of the national observance, based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible.

The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation as 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 for 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.

All true Christian prayer is offered to the Father, in the name and through the intercession of the Son, in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Failing to recognize this, an event such as the National Day of Prayer is nothing more than civil religion on parade.  It strikes me that the exhortation from Thomas Jefferson exhorting people to pray is featured prominently on the website, while one person is strangely absent from all of this discussion--Jesus, the only mediator between sinners and the holy God (1 Timothy 2:4).

Of course, all Christians should pray for their nation (1 Timothy 2:1 ff).  At Christ Reformed Church, for example, we pray every week during our Lord's Day worship, "for those who serve our common welfare in temporal affairs, especially those who govern us, that they may do so with wisdom, integrity, and the knowledge that their councils stand under your final judgment. Dear Father, who sends rain upon the just and the unjust alike, give to us also, we pray, such humility of conduct and faithfulness in our worldly callings, that we may contribute to the good of our neighbors. We ask that you would restrain wickedness and vice in society, promote justice and the common good, and cause us to be salt and light in this evil age."  We then pray for our president, the congress and our courts, our governor, and all local officials (mayors and city councils).  We give thanks that we live in a land of freedom and liberty, we seek God's protection from acts of terror, and we ask that God protect all those who work so diligently to keep us safe.

But we do this as the assembled people of God, confessing the same faith and in submission to the word of God.  It is our duty to pray for our nation by praying to the Father, in the name of Christ, and through the power of the Holy Spirit.  But we cannot do as the ancient Athenians did (and as many of America's deistic founding fathers insisted)--seek the blessing of the unknown God because getting the people of "all faiths" to pray together, supposedly, is far more important than praying as Jesus and the apostles commanded us to pray.

Reader Comments (3)

But, Pastor Kim! Remember 2 Chronicles 7:14! It's all about JerUSAlem!
May 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRichard
Well said, Pastor!
May 7, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDavid Q
What are your thoughts on Reformed pastors offering public prayers opening sessions of Congress?
May 9, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterZrim

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