The National Day of Prayer (NDP) observance is next week. Americans have much to pray about these days, but as a nationally sanctioned event the NDP almost ended a few years ago. Ironically, the secular worldview that would end the event is one of the reasons we shouldn’t.
Secularism holds that there is no place for faith in the public arena of ideas or in any government activity. It attempts to use the doctrine of ‘separation of church and state’ as a gag on the free exercise of religion guaranteed in the First Amendment. In 2011, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ended a lawsuit against the NDP, ruling that the President is free to make appeals to the public based on many kinds of grounds, including political and religious. Since the government is not compelling citizens to participate, the NDP is no violation of the First Amendment which prohibits ‘establishment of religion.’
Secularism is a worldview that is now more favored by the courts than the theism worldview. It seems that the more success secularists have in removing God from schools, politics, government, the military, business, and culture in general, the more immoral and weak our nation becomes, hence our need for prayer. Our second President, John Adams wrote, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion…Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Perhaps that’s why our nation’s leaders dating back to the Continental Congress have called for days of prayer especially in times of crisis. At D-Day, President Roosevelt didn’t call just for a day, “but because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer.” In 1952, at the urging of Billy Graham the Congress passed a law signed by Harry Truman establishing a NDP on an annual basis. About it, Ronald Reagan said, “From General Washington’s struggle at Valley Forge to the present, this Nation has fervently sought and received divine guidance.” In 1988, federal law set the NDP as the first Thursday of May.
This year more than ever we need prayer, not just to stem the increasing secularization of our country. Franklin Graham’s prayer list includes “issues that are causing the very foundation of our country to crumble. Our moral and spiritual roots are eroding, the economy is misleading, family life is disintegrating, and political forces are at unprecedented odds. There seem to be very few leaders who will take a stand for God and for His Word.” To his list, I add the threat of radical, militant ideology that seeks ‘death to America.’
If you agree that America needs prayer, please locate the NDP service in your community, and join with other Americans in a centuries-old tradition to pray for our country. May God bless America!