George Bowers Sr.: We still need to pray for America

George Bowers Sr.

The first Thursday of every May has been designated as America’s National Day of Prayer. Although we should pray every day, this special time is set aside for Christians to join together to pray for our nation, our citizens, and our leaders. The U.S. has and continues to enjoy many special blessings and it is important to pause regularly and thank the one responsible.

Down through the history of our country, the leaders of our nation have recognized the importance of prayer and have called our citizens to it. Our nation’s first president, and famous Virginian, George Washington, prayed for the young country and asked almighty God to “keep the Unites States in Thy Holy protection…and incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another…”

Our second president, John Adams, went further and called for a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer in April of 1799. He urged all Americans to abstain from their occupations, confess and repent of their sins, and seek the mercy and grace of God.

While he was still governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson decreed a day of “Public and solemn thanksgiving and prayer to Almighty God.” Later, while serving as our third U.S. president, he issued a prayer for peace. This is the founder who has been most famously quoted regarding separation of church and state. It is obvious from his actions as well as his writings that this phrase has been yanked from its context, misconstrued, and misused.

We could go on to examine virtually all of our nation’s early leaders who not only called for prayer, but prayed earnestly themselves. They clearly believed in accessing the wisdom, power, and protection of heaven in order to properly govern this great nation.

Today, we have not outgrown our need for God. If anything, we need him now more than ever and this year’s National Day of Prayer next Thursday is a perfect time to gather with other Christians to seek God’s face and grace. This year’s theme is “For Your Great Name’s Sake! Hear Us… Forgive Us…Heal Us!” It is taken from Daniel 9:19, which says, “O Lord, Listen! O Lord, Forgive! O Lord, Hear and Act! For Your Sake, O My God…” In the verse that immediately precedes this one, Daniel admits to God that “we do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.” In spite of our unrighteousness and shortcomings, we seek God’s mercy and forgiveness for us, for our leaders, and for our nation.

Several Christians will gather at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Woodstock just down from the Courthouse at 122 E. Court St. for a prayer service at noon  Thursday. All are invited to attend this interdenominational event, which has no political motivations. It is an opportunity for citizens to come together to pray for our towns, our county, our Commonwealth, and our nation. Various pastors will lead prayers, but others will be invited to pray as well, if they feel so led, but no one will be called on to do so. We anticipate it lasting about an hour but folks are free to come and go as they need to.

Other prayer services will be held at other locations that same day, including one at Valley Pike Church of the Brethren at 7 p.m. that evening. In 1 Timothy 2, Paul tells us, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone —  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men.” I would encourage all followers of Christ who care about our nation to obey these words and pray for America every day, but especially next Thursday.

In Jesus, George

George Bowers Sr. is the senior pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren and has authored eight books including his latest, “Celebration Time, A Collection of Brethren Love Feasts.”  He can be reached through www.georgebowersministries.com or at gabowers@shentel.net.