As honorary chairman for the 2010 National Day of Prayer Task Force, Franklin Graham said, “This is a crucial time for us to collectively seek God’s divine intervention for the challenges facing us.” On May 6, countless Americans fell on their knees to ask for this divine intervention.
In 1952, President Harry Truman signed the National Day of Prayer into law as a national observance. Since then, Americans from many backgrounds have been overcoming differences to join together and pray for our nation.
This year, as the 59th observance was marked on May 6, Franklin Graham joined Shirley Dobson, National Day of Prayer chairwoman, in Washington, D.C., to urge people all over the United States to intercede on behalf of our country.
On the day prior to the official observance, Christian leaders joined Franklin Graham at a men’s prayer event hosted by the Family Research Council. Participants included Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; James Dobson, former president of Focus on the Family; and Bishop Harry Jackson, pastor of Hope Christian Church.
Franklin challenged the audience to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth and reminded them to emphasize prayer across our land. “We’ve got the opportunity tomorrow to focus this whole nation on prayer,” he said.
One of the men in attendance was Mike Sharman, an attorney who works primarily with family issues, such as child neglect and abuse. Considering the day-to-day situations he sees, Sharman hopes that the National Day of Prayer will strengthen the American family, and he would like to see it start with men.
“I can see some men doing what Adam did in the beginning—just standing aside, not doing anything while Satan attacks the family,” explained Sharman. “Most of the abused children I see are lacking the loving embrace of a strong father. Without a godly man at the head of a family, you just have a battlefield of dead and wounded.”
Charles W. Herbster, CEO and owner of a Minneapolis company, has been attending the men’s prayer event for several years. He said that business leaders have a great platform to impact the world through prayer and holy living. “I rely on prayer multiple times daily,” he said. “We start our board meetings with prayer. I can’t imagine leading a company without constant prayer.”
On May 6, hundreds gathered in the Cannon House Office Building near the U.S. Capitol to corporately worship and intercede. The attendees, ranging from dignitaries to school groups, offered prayers of personal repentance, as well as prayers for the nation, government and military.
Doug Castle, a chaplain in the U.S. Army, was invited to pray for the military at the Cannon House service. He highlighted several specific issues that need prayer: “Families are stressed out,” he said. “Many of the soldiers are suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Brain injuries are ruining lives. Suicide is climbing. We really need God’s intervention in the lives of the soldiers and their families.”
The theme of Castle’s prayer was “not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit.” He said, “We’ve tried with America’s might and power. We’ve made some progress, but it is now time for the Spirit of God to move. God can do this, one heart at a time.”
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn.) said that as a public servant and as a disciple of Christ, she is burdened for our nation: “Our country is undoubtedly under siege. I believe that the author of our true liberty is Jesus. Scripture tells us that ‘Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.'”
Some of our earthly liberties are at stake, Bachmann said, adding that she is committed to helping preserve those through prayer.
“The Christian faith was subscribed to by the founders of this country,” she said. “They attribute the rise of the United States to the hand of God, who has blessed us. My prayer is that we hold on to that particular essence of America. It’s important to look to what made us great—our faith in God.”
Franklin received a standing ovation when he approached the podium to deliver the keynote address. He delivered a message from Matthew, citing the parallels between America and a leprosy-ridden man who asked Jesus for healing.
“This man’s leprosy is a picture of our personal sin and of our nation’s sinful condition,” Franklin said. “The only hope this man had for healing was the Lord Jesus Christ. Like this man, we have no hope for our nation, and no hope for ourselves apart from the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Franklin added that like this man, America needs a touch from the Lord. “My prayer for this nation is: ‘Lord, if You’re willing, make this nation whole again. May we turn to You and worship You and acknowledge You.'”
For Such a Time as This
Although the 2010 National Day of Prayer has passed, James Dobson believes its impact will go the distance.
“Franklin Graham has had many opportunities to talk about the Gospel amid all the media attention we have received this year,” Dobson said. “He does it with intensity, yet not with anger. He graciously gets the message out there.”
Dobson noted that five years ago, people didn’t know much about the National Day of Prayer, but now people all over the country have been talking about prayer.
He added that this year’s theme, For Such a Time as This, could not be timelier. “Many who are committed to Christ are concerned for our country, and most of those people have a spiritual basis for their concern. So, ‘for such a time as this,’ we are together to pray for our nation. This is why God called us, and that’s what we’re about.”