A week from today will be the 69th anniversary of a resolution passed unanimously by Congress in 1952 and signed by then President Harry S. Truman. This resolution is known today as America’s “National Day of Prayer.” This resolution was initiated to remind Americans of the active role prayer played in the lives of the Founding Fathers and in the creation of America as a Christian nation.
It is doubtful that today’s Congress would even consider such a resolution let alone pass it unanimously. And if they did Biden would likely veto it. That is how much the attitudes and beliefs about God and prayer have changed in America during the past 69 years?
In 1952, at the time this resolution was passed, America was at war again – in Korea and Americans were still remembering the powerful role prayer had played in the winning of World War II. The vast majority of Americans still believed in God, and this National Day of Prayer resolution was a reminder to the people in 1952 of just how much a ‘National Prayer Day’ meant to them.
Today America is still at war – at war with itself. In 1952 America was “One Nation under God.” Today America is badly divided, and it seems it is becoming more divided with each passing day. The major political parties, the parties that have dominated the American political scene since 1860 have lost touch with the people they represent – witness the populist support for outsiders such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.
And many believe this divide has come about because America is no longer “One Nation under God.” Prayer was an active part of the school experience in 1952. Today God is not even allowed, by judicial fiat, to be discussed in schools. The Bible was a reminder that morality is the protector of both private and national freedoms. Today the Bible is being mocked by many and has been removed from the schools. And America allows this divide to continue at its own peril.
As America enters its National Prayer Day week it should remember the words of Benjamin Franklin, who, while speaking to the convention delegates during a very dark period of America’s history, stated: “In this situation of this assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with Britain, when we were sensible with danger, we had daily prayers in this room for divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard – and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. … I have lived, Sir, a long time: and the longer I live the more convincing proofs I see of this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire cannot rise without His aid?”
For the millions of believers whose souls hunger for eternal truth, God is very real and active in their lives. Prayer is real for those who pray, as real as breathing, seeing, or feeling. It is a force that can make bad men good and good men better. And prayer is real for me, and for those hundreds who prayed for me following my several accidents. And their prayers were heard – and answered.
Christ’s prayer, as recorded in Luke 22, is a powerful example of how a prayer is asked and answered. Those who have poured out their heart and soul to their God have, like me, had their own “angel” sent into their lives to strengthen them, sent to provide comfort in a time of great need. Those of us who have felt God’s powerful force strengthen and comfort us, in answer to prayer, know assuredly that God is active in our lives, and that He lives.
Next Thursday will be America’s National Day of Prayer – so let each of us pray for our nation, for the continuity of this nation’s freedoms and for America’s elected leaders. America, and America’s elected leaders, could use the prayers of all Americans as much today as in Franklin’s time.
Pray for America not only on this National Prayer Day but every day of the year. America’s freedoms depend on our prayers – and America’s obedience to God’s laws.