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Friday, May 08, 2009

No, I will NOT observe the "National Day of Prayer" today...

Wanna know why?

Because for one thing, as a follower of Christ, I just don't see the purpose of it.

What is the point of a nationwide "prayer holiday", if we are already to seek after Christ with all our hearts? In 1st Thessalonians, chapter 5 we are instructed to "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (verses 16-18).

Maybe it's just me, but holding up a single day out of the year to spend in prayer smacks too much of being an excuse to not have to pray as much or as sincerely the rest of the time.

And why attempt a "mass prayer" at all? We are told that not even one sparrow "is forgotten by God" if it falls to the ground (Luke 12:6). Certainly our Father then will hear even the smallest prayer of the very least of His children. Putting our prayers together as collective force will not compel Him to hear us any clearer.

And then... what precisely are we supposed to be praying about, on this day of all days?

Here is what some Christians have declared they will be bringing up in prayer. From the Detroit Free Press...

We ... proudly call ourselves a Christian nation," the Rev. Terry Frazier, pastor of Liberty Foursquare Church in Warren, told a crowd of hundreds gathered at Warren City Hall. "Restore the ability for Bibles to be used in our classroom again. ... And may our nation declare that Jesus Christ is Lord."
There is so much wrong with what Rev. Frazier is saying here, that I don't know where to begin.

And from the National Day of Prayer Task Force (a "task force" on prayer?!)...

The National Day of Prayer Task Force's mission is to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership in the seven centers of power: Government, Military, Media, Business, Education, Church and Family.
My friends, this is why I cannot, as a matter of personal conscience, partake or approve of the "National Day of Prayer".

I know how it started. Once upon a time, it was meant as a sincere appeal to God for mercy. Here's the text of President Abraham Lincoln's proclamation of a national day of prayer, delivered on March 30th, 1863...

Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.

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.

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us!

It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th. day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the People to abstain, on that day, from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our national sins, and the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country, to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

I hope y'all will have noticed the words that I have highlighted in Lincoln's text... because you'll be hard-pressed to find anything like them in today's appeals for "national prayer" as abundantly or prominently.

Whatever happened to humility?

Why does it seem like somewhere along the way, it became "wrong" to acknowledge that yes, we are weak?

And how dare we petition God for His favor when we hawk our own arrogance and pride?

Because, let's be honest about what the "National Day of Prayer" has become. It's no longer a day about petitioning God for the right reasons.

It's become about demanding that He actively interfere in the world, per our own understanding.

(There's something about that in Proverbs 3:5, if you wanna look it up.)

Why am I not going to participate in the National Day of Prayer?

Because honestly, I don't believe it's going to do any good.

I've no doubt that there is correlation between how corrupt America has become, and how many of those among her people who profess to follow Christ have refused to be penitent and humble. How we have for the most part neglected to remember that the first requisite of sincere prayer is to acknowledge our place before the Lord.

We have forgotten how to ask that His will be done, not our own.

I don't believe God will heed the prayers directed by the "National Day of Prayer Task Force". Because they and far too many others are presuming to have a wisdom that is NOT theirs.

I don't want to see a "National Day of Prayer" ever again. Not as it is being encouraged and promoted. America does not need that.

What America does need, is a National Day of REPENTANCE.

It is way past time for the Christians of this land to get off their high horse and examine their own conscience, lowering themselves into the proverbial ashes and sackcloth (whether figuratively or literally should be left as a personal choice). And not as a collective effort by an organized mob either, but instead that we should encourage this of each other as individuals.

Because, folks, there is no "Christian nation" without there being Christ at work within us to begin with. And for His glory, not that of our own.

It could very well be that God has removed His guiding hand from this country because we have removed His hand from our hearts.

Perhaps if those of us who claim to follow Him might stop trying to make others yield to us and instead we yield to Him first, we might begin to see that turn toward the better that many are no doubt earnestly praying for today.


kingthorin said...

"Maybe it's just me, but holding up a single day out of the year to spend in prayer smacks too much of being an excuse to not have to pray as much or as sincerely the rest of the time."

Ya it's kind of like: Earth Day, Earth Hour, Valentine's Day, Mothers/Fathers Day, etc.....

Anonymous said...



Calvin said...

Chris, I agree. If we aren't humble first then God won't care how much we pray to him.

Good article.

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with praying to have the bibles placed back in the schools. We have drugs, weapons and police officers what would it hurt to have a class dedicated to the greatest book of all times. I don't see a problem with that. To pray for it is just asking God to make it so.

Johnny Y.

Chris Knight said...

The presence of a Bible in the classroom in and of itself would accomplish nothing. That is, I hate to say it, too much like Gnosticism, which tended to confer spiritual power onto physical objects. It's what's in the Bible and whether or not those who seek after Christ choose to apply it to their own lives, for His sake and not our own, which is what matters.

And Johnny, to be honest, I'm not seeing that all that much.

It's like that Ten Commandments "monument" that was put in place and then removed down in Mississippi a few years ago. A lot of Christians were angry when it was removed. But really: did the monument itself do anything of good?

It's not the Bible as a book. It's not the Ten Commandments as a list. It's what they are about. That there is a God and that we would do well to understand that in spite of our own "wisdom" that mankind is not the center of the universe.

If we begin to humble ourselves sincerely, I have no doubt that the rest will follow. Without having to appeal to God for more power and influence.

Anonymous said...


I believe I was stating to have a class on the bible. I believe the contents and values in the bible are important to help shape moral lives. Do I believe that everyone is perfect no. I believe that learning the principals that are in the bible is crucial to understanding salvation and ways to interact with others in the world. I believe that the Christian society has alot to learn about the bible and those that "hit the clock on sunday and check in" would do well to have the bible taught in school. I support its principals. The principals of the bible are essential to life and understanding salvation. This is why I shared what I did.

Johnny Y.

Faith said...

Wow! I can't believe you guys. Yes Christians are supposed to uphold a daily lifestyle that includes prayer, but to sit here and argue that the National Day of Prayer is ineffective and pointless is very contradicting to what you say you believe as a Christian. If prayer is such an important facet of your everyday lives, one day to join in prayer with fellow citizens for matters involving your country shouldn't bother you at all! This is ridiculous! With all the bad that's going on in our nation, how dare you even use 10 minutes out of your day to criticize something that is meant for good? You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.