Americans throughout the nation participated in the National Day of Prayer last Thursday, petitioning for unity within the Church and within the nation.
“We are calling out to God tonight to unify the Church and to bring unity to our nation,” said Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of National Day of Prayer, during the national observance Thursday evening in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
“I say to you tonight with a growing burden in my heart: a divided Church cannot call a divided nation to unity,” he continued. “And this is why, on this National Day of Prayer in America, we are advancing, and forwarding, and calling everyone from everywhere in this nation to pray for America. And when we pray, we need to pray that somehow, some way, God will bring us together.”
The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance of prayer for the nation dating back to a call in a joint resolution of Congress signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1952.
The theme for the 2018 National Day of Prayer was “Pray for America – Unity,” based upon Ephesians 4:3, which challenges believers to mobilize unified public prayer for America, “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
At the national observance, participants heard from Floyd and ministry leaders Priscilla Shirer, Sammy Rodriguez, and H. B. Charles Jr., as well as Frank and Sheri Pomeroy, whose church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, was devastated last year when a gunman killed 26 people, including their daughter. They also heard from the Brooklyn Tabernacle Singers and UniVoice.
Shirer, the daughter of pastor and ministry leader Tony Evans, noted in her address that unity “is not sameness.”
“It is unity of purpose and resolution,” she said. “We stand together in a unified front to let the enemy know that we recognize his tactics – to let him know that we won’t stand by idly and let him play us for the fool. Not today. Not on our watch.”
National Day of Prayer at the White House
Earlier in the day, the White House hosted an event in the Rose Garden to mark the National Day of Prayer, during which President Donald Trump gave special attention to the late Rev. Billy Graham, who passed away earlier this year.
“Today, we remember the words of Reverend Graham: ‘Prayer is the key that opens [to] us the treasures of God’s mercies and blessings,’” the President said.
“Reverend Graham’s words remind us that prayer has always been at the center of American life, because America is a nation of believers. Right? That’s very true,” he added.
Among those in attendance in the Rose Garden was Cissie Graham Lynch, Graham’s granddaughter and daughter of Franklin Graham.
In her prayer for the nation, Lynch thanked and prayed for the President and Vice President, as well as all of the nation’s leaders.
“May they remember You, and You alone, are the hope for this country,” she prayed.
Lynch also petitioned “for a time of mending and unity in this country.”
“We pray a time to turn away from hate and choose to love; and we pray for a time of peace,” she added.
President Trump also used the occasion to announce the White House’s launch of a new faith-based initiative that will provide recommendations regarding policies that may affect faith-based and community organizations and will pay particular attention to the religious liberty rights of such groups.
Vice President Mike Pence called it a “strong step to protect and promote Americans of faith, because in this White House, believers of every background have a champion in President Donald Trump.”
NRB’s First Amendment Lunch
Shortly after the Rose Garden event, at the Capitol Hill Club, the National Religious Broadcasters held its annual First Amendment Lunch, which featured keynote speaker Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Floyd, who participated in the Rose Garden event, also joined NRB’s lunch event and opened it with a word of greeting and prayer for the nation and the NDP events around the nation.
He highlighted how prayer is “a gift that the Lord has given us,” and how “we just need to be thankful.”
Floyd, who is senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and an NRB member, also stressed the importance of unity in America, noting that unity “is supernatural and only happens through the power of God.”
Floyd concluded his remarks by reminding Christian leaders that “a divided Church cannot call a divided nation to unity.”
“And we as the Church of Jesus Christ need to model what true Christian unity is just as Jesus prayed for us to experience that together in John 17,” he said before leading the lunch event in prayer..
Later that evening, at the national observance, Floyd reiterated the sentiments, adding that “even in the midst of our diversity, we should be compelled to do whatever it takes to live in unity and oneness.”
And while it may feel like unity, harmony, and love are impossibilities, Floyd said they are possible to have.
“The world says, ‘There’s no way,’ and even all the Church says, ‘There’s no way,’” Floyd acknowledged.
“You’re right. In our own way, there is not. But I believe in a God who can do anything, anywhere, anytime with anyone. And I believe it can happen in Jesus’ name,” he concluded.