National Days of Prayer are an Old Tradition


Concerned Americans across the United States acknowledged Thursday, May 2, 2019 as the official National Day of Prayer.  Approximately 200 local residents joined with them at noon in front of the Pulaski courthouse to pray for an hour in unity for our government and society.

Each year has a different prayer theme and this year’s national prayer theme was “Love one another…and follow the golden rule,” as expressed by Jesus and recorded in the Bible in John 13:34.

In Pulaski, the well-coordinated prayer event was organized by Pulaski resident, Evangelist Dwight D. Haynes of the Good News Chalk Talks ministry and the Pulaski County Ministerial Association, directed by Terrie Sternberg, President.

Haynes and his family have ministered in 49 states during the past 11 years.  Haynes says of his ministry,  “Our family travels all over the USA doing Chalk-Talks and sharing the Gospel.  People come to see, hear and experience a blank gray canvas being transformed into a beautiful Bible-strong message.”

After the historic courthouse bells tolled the noon-time hour, Haynes opened with prayer and Pam Smallwood sang a`cappella “God Bless America.”  Haynes uses visual aids in his ministry and began chalking a patriotic design on a large easle, which he completed at the culmination of the prayers.

Haynes chose well-known passages from Psalm 33, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord”  and “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.”

Then he asked the rhetorical question “What sits on the throne of our hearts?  What the Lord wants to see is Jesus there.  Jesus paid the price for our sin, delivered our soul from death.  Now let’s rejoice in Him.”

Thirty-five local churches and 28 individuals were prepared to pray for local, state and national entities. Individuals were stationed around the courthouse lawn, each holding a penant depicting their specific area of prayer.

Prayers were expressed for Pulaski County Public Works, Community Volunteer Efforts, Families and Homes, Pulaski City and County Schools, Addiction and Recovery, Medical Caregivers, Business and Commerce, Pulaski Board of Supervisors, Pulaski Town Police, Pulaski County Sheriff Department, Dublin Police Department, Fire and Rescue, Homeless in Pulaski, Virginia State Government, US Congress and Senate, American Veterans and Military, Courts and Judges, US Supreme Court, our President and Federal Administration.

Emmanuel Christian Bookstore provided lunch for the National Day of Prayer participants and their guests. Transportation was provided by Taking It To The Streets Ministry for those who did not wish to walk from the courthouse to the bookstore.

Although we are most familiar with our modern National Day of Prayer, during the founding of our nation, proclamations for national days of prayer and fasting were frequent.  The first recorded call to national prayer dates back to 1775 when the Continental Congress called for prayers during the forming of the nation. Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of publick humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be observed by the “English Colonies” on Thursday, July 20, 1775.

In the past, national days of prayer and fasting were observed sporadically by local, state and national government entities and Presidents. However, the official National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 during the Korean War when evangelist Billy Graham commented, “What a thrilling, glorious thing it would be to see the leaders of our country today kneeling before Almighty God in prayer. What renewed hope and courage would grip the Americans at this hour of peril.”  As a result, a joint Congressional proclamation declaring a National Day of Prayer was presented and signed by President Harry S. Truman declaring that henceforth every President would designate a National Day of Prayer on the day of his choice.

But in 1988, under President Ronald Reagan, the law was amended to designate the first Thursday in May as official national day of prayer.  Two stated intentions of the National Day of Prayer were that it would be a day when adherents of all great religions could unite in prayer and that it may one day bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.

This year the proclamation from President Donald J. Trump reflected those sentiments: “Today, on this National Day of Prayer, we once again come together to give thanks to Almighty God for the bountiful blessings He has bestowed on our great Nation, and to ask for His unfailing counsel.  We also acknowledge our dependence on God’s love to guide our families, communities, and our country away from harm and toward abundance and peace.”

I think we can all say “Amen” to that.