I’m filled with joy and gratitude as we observe the National Day of Prayer in the United States on May 6 this year. For 21 years it’s been my continued privilege and honor to coordinate the National Day of Prayer here at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. On the National Day of Prayer we focus our prayers on the U.S.—a nation comprising a multitude of races, ethnicities, tongues, and tribes. We also pray, however, for all people and countries throughout the world.
The U.S. enacted a law proclaiming an annual day of prayer for our nation in 1952,1 but days of fasting and prayer for America have been observed from as early as the 1700s, established by the Second Continental Congress.2 Centuries later, America still needs our prayers.—now more than ever. Our nation has a great need for fervent, concerted, prolonged prayer for healing and revival.
Our nation has a great need for fervent, concerted, prolonged prayer for healing and revival to sweep our nation.
On this designated day we join countless voices across our nation as we pray for the seven spheres of influence: media, government, education, economy, family, religion, and celebration. Many people across the nation take the day off and spend time at their state’s or nation’s capitol, gathering together for concerted prayer. As children of the living God, we are called to embrace a prayer-share-care lifestyle. This special day of prayer is just one example of how we lift our nation up in prayer from coast to coast.
The theme for the 2021 National Day of Prayer is ”LORD, Pour Out Your Love, Life, and Liberty.”3 The theme is inspired by God’s promise in 2 Corinthians 3:17: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (KJV).
Typically, in many churches and organizations, the National Day of Prayer begins with a prayer breakfast. Many U.S. presidents also host a prayer preakfast at the White House in observance of this special day. Until last year when the COVID pandemic struck, a prayer breakfast was held at the General Conference to jumpstart the day. It’s a time of food and fellowship, followed by prayer, music, and a short devotional.
One year the 12th Chair of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission accepted our invitation to speak at the event. Ted N. C. Wilson, a General Conference vice president at the time, offered to pray with the speaker’s driver. The driver was so impressed by this that he shared the story with many others.
After the prayer breakfast, those who choose to do so transition into other prayer-based activities held throughout the day. One such activity is called prayer walking. This is when a group of people enter a community to pray for the people there. As we walk down the streets we may strike up conversations with people we meet and offer to pray with them. It’s surprising how many people readily accept the offer to be prayed with—and rare to find a person who declines the offer.
As we walk empty streets, we stop in front of houses and pray for the people in those homes. We don’t know them or their challenges, but the Lord does. We just lift them up in prayer. Some years, groups comprising as many as 70 people participate in the community prayer walk. Not all participants are Seventh-day Adventists; some come from other Christian denominations. As God’s children, however, we lock arms with the united goal of praying for our nation and its people. Those involved report feeling very blessed by being part of the event.
State and National Capitol Events
Also during the National Day of Prayer, groups of Christians from across the country gather around the U.S. Capitol, on the lawns of the White House, outside the Houses of Congress, and numerous other places in Washington, D.C., to pray together. They lift up the nation, the country’s leaders, and numerous issues that influence the shape of our nation, and ask for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit to bring revival and healing.
The Lord has promised: “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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chron. 7:14, NIV).4
It’s our earnest prayer that the Lord will hear our humble cry and heal our land.
Stanley Ponniah is a senior accountant at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists and has been organizing prayer gatherings in North America and other places for more than 25 years.
4 Scripture texts marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright Ó 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.