On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.
It is wonderful to have such a day on our national calendar. If there was ever a time that we needed to pray, it is now. However, many will pray and I fear that we will pray with a wrong motive. Let’s consider it for a moment so we can pray properly.
Do we pray today because we desire to hold onto America as we know it or want it to be? Do we pray because we want prosperity? Do we pray because we are afraid? Do we pray because we want the coronavirus to go away? Do we pray because we want convenience? Is prayer just a way for us to get what we want? Is prayer about us maintaining a level of comfort?
Throughout the Bible, men like Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Habakkuk along many others prayed to God for their nations to return to God from their sin. They prayed for revival, for a great awakening to who God was and what He expected of them.
Solomon sought God in prayer on behalf of a sinful nation. He asked God to forgive them at the time they would humbly return to Him. God answered Him with the words, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
Isaiah humbly admitted His own sin along with the sin of His nation when he realized the holiness of God. When confession was made, God cleansed and commissioned him. The account of this is stirring! “In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. 2 Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. 3 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: The whole earth is full of his glory. 4 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: 7 And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. 8 Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:1-8)
Jeremiah wept over the sin and waywardness of his nation. His broken and humble heart is revealed in Jeremiah 13:15–17. “Hear ye, and give ear; be not proud: for the Lord hath spoken. 16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness. 17 But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride; and mine eye shall weep sore, and run down with tears, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.”
Habakkuk prayed earnestly and humbly in the midst of injustice and pending chastening from the hand of the Lord, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, In the midst of the years make known; In wrath remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)
Friends, today is a national day of prayer and how we need to pray. Presently, our nation desires deliverance, but not the Deliverer. We need Him so desperately! If you are a child of God, would you pray? Would you set aside desire for ease and comfort and pray humbly and fervently? Would you confess your sin and the sin of our nation like Isaiah? Would you pray for our nation to return to our holy God?