With so many natural disasters, financial woes, diseases, wars, rising job loss numbers, and daily fears and anxieties plaguing our lives in this modern world, is prayer an irrelevant activity Or is there value to us as a nation—and as individuals—in reaching out to God through effective heartfelt prayer?
In 1952, President Harry Truman signed into law a joint resolution declaring an annual, national day of prayer. Later, under President Ronald Reagan in 1988, the first Thursday in May was permanently set aside as a National Day of Prayer. The following is an excerpt from the National Day of Prayer Task Force website:
"The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation… 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."
In a recent Religious Landscape Poll conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 58% of respondents said they pray daily, and another 23% responded that they pray at least a few times a month. That is 81% of respondents—in the poll of more than 35,000 American adults—saying they pray at least a few times a month. Based on the data of this nationwide poll, prayer is a relevant and important activity to a majority of Americans.
Of those 81% of respondents who pray at least a few times a month, 23% answered that they "seldom to never" receive an answer to prayer. Almost a quarter of those who pray don't believe that their prayers are being answered! So although prayer is a relevant activity, it is not considered to be a fruitful activity by those who pray the most. This raises the questions, "What makes for effective prayer?" and "How can we be included among those who feel their prayers are being answered?"
President Abraham Lincoln explained it much the same way as the National Day of Prayer Task Force when he called the nation to pray on April 30, 1863, "And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord."
If our nations would truly repent in "humble sorrow" as suggested by the man whom some historians rank as the United States' best president, then we would see God's intervention! It was just two years after Lincoln proclaimed a day of prayer that the U.S. experienced one of the greatest turning points in its history—the end of the Civil War in 1865, which ultimately saw the end of organized national slavery in America, and brought to pass a new era in U.S. history.
The truth is that very few people follow the biblical guidelines for effective prayer. They have never been taught those guidelines and may therefore pray in vain. On Thursday, May 7, 2009 we will, as a nation, participate in this annual day of prayer for the 58th time. The question is… will you seek God in prayer?
You can learn how to pray the type of effective prayers that bring real answers leading to real change in your life! To learn how to unlock the power of dynamic prayer, request our essential booklet titled, "Twelve Keys to Answered Prayer" or read our informative Tomorrow's World article, "Prayer: Our Lifeline to God."