WASHINGTON — In a night filled with worship music and prayer, a multiethnic group of pastors and faith leaders joined Dr. Ronnie Floyd to urge Americans to put aside hate, division and unforgiveness and to choose to love one another.
The 68th National Observance of the National Day of Prayer was held Thursday, at National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol and broadcast live to millions of viewers on Daystar TV and Facebook Live. Dr. Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, led an evening of prayer for America. He was joined by a multiethnic group of pastors and faith leaders, including Rev. Anthony Thompson, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Bishop Harry Jackson, Dr. Negiel Bigpond, Liliana Lewis, Pat Chen and more. The renowned Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir led a standing room only crowd in worship.
“Tonight we will cry out to God together from this unique place, that God would give America a ‘Love One Another’ movement that would change the course of this nation,” Dr. Floyd said.
He added, “It’s my prayer [that] one day history will record that on Thursday, May the 2nd, 2019, on the National Day of Prayer, a movement began that only God can explain that ignited this nation into the next great movement of God all across this land.”
Among the special guests was Rev. Thompson, author of “Called to Forgive.” Rev. Thompson’s wife Myra was one of nine congregants killed on June 17, 2015, at a Bible study in Mother Emanuel AME Church of Charleston, South Carolina, by white supremacist Dylann Roof.
Rev. Thompson challenged those in attendance by asking them how willing they were to love those who hurt them.
“Can you bless those who curse you? Can you do good to those who hate you? Can you pray for those who mistreat you? Can you love your enemies? Can you love someone who hates you because of the color of your skin?” Rev. Thompson asked.
He added, “God asked me that question one day, very difficult. On June 17, 2015, a young white supremacist named Dylann Roof killed my wife and eight people at Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina. And God asked me, he said to me, ‘Can you love Dylann? Can you love that man who killed your wife?’
“Forty-eight hours after that horrific tragedy, I was at Dylan Roof’s bond hearing, and I had to answer God’s question. It haunted me, and as I approached the podium I thought about myself and I said, ‘God I am a sinner, just like Dylann.’ And I said to Dylann, ‘Son I forgive you. My family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent, confess and give your life to the one who matters the most, that’s Christ. So that he can change your ways, change your attitude, and no matter what happens to you, you’ll be okay.’”
Andrew and Norine Brunson were also special guests that evening. The couple shared about Andrew’s two-year imprisonment in Turkey for his faith and led a time of prayer for the persecuted church.
“There was something greater that God was doing. There was a tsunami of prayer crashing into Turkey,” Andrew Brunson said.
Thursday night was the culmination of a week of events in Washington for the National Day of Prayer. On Wednesday night, Dr. Floyd hosted a pre-National Day of Prayer event at Museum of the Bible with Andrew and Norine Brunson. Vice President Mike Pence also spoke at the event. The vice president encouraged attendees to pray for unfolding events in Venezuela and promised that the White House would continue to fight for Americans’ right to worship.
“As you have seen since the early days of this administration, this president, this administration, we have been standing up for what our founders understood to be our first freedom. And I promise you, for the next six years, this administration will always stand for religious liberty and will always stand for people of faith,” the vice president said.
For photos of the National Observance at National Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol, follow this link. All photos must be credited to Bud Sullins.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force. His new book “How to Pray: Developing an Intimate Relationship with God” (Thomas Nelson) released April 2. Follow him on Twitter @ronniefloyd.
The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed the amended law designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. Every year, millions of Americans, in tens of thousands of meetings across all 50 states, come together for unified public prayer for America.