It’s no small feat to organize the National Day of Prayer.
The annual observance, held on the first Thursday of May, has grown to include millions of Americans taking part in tens of thousands of prayer gatherings from coast to coast.
Behind the event is a group of the nation’s prayer warriors—men and women from diverse cultural and denominational backgrounds who have dedicated their lives to praying for the United States and the world.
But even prayer warriors need to recharge once in a while.
This year, they chose Charlotte, N.C., as the place to do just that.
From Jan. 27-31, the National Prayer Committee (NPC) and the Denominational Prayer Leaders Network (DPLN) teamed up to hold their annual meetings in North Carolina’s “Queen City.”
The two groups met, planned and prayed at the headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and the Billy Graham Library located next door.
It was a unique opportunity for the BGEA to pour into the people who are continually pouring themselves into the country.
“They’re the prayer leaders of America,” said Tom Phillips, vice president of The Billy Graham Library. “We’re able to serve them as they serve the nation.”
Dave Butts, chairman of the NPC, said the group usually selects a warmer location for its annual meeting. Choosing Charlotte meant braving frigid temperatures and even some snow.
“Tom Phillips was persistent,” Butts said. “He said, ‘We would really, really like for the NPC to come and experience this.’ And I agreed. I thought it would be a great thing for us.
“I wanted them to see the emphasis of prayer in a place that’s known for evangelism.”
“The Holy Spirit’s presence is so alive here,” said NPC member Joan Courtney, who traveled to Charlotte from San Antonio, Texas. “The presence of the Lord is in this place.”
On Wednesday, Will Graham, Associate Evangelist and vice president at the BGEA, addressed the visitors.
Will talked about how his grandfather, Billy Graham, has just a couple of regrets as he looks back on 95 years of life.
“My granddaddy said, ‘Will, two things I regret in life: I wish I knew the Scriptures better—I wish I knew them as well as your grandmother. And the second thing I regret is, I wish I spent more time on my knees.’”
Will said he has taken those words to heart, knowing they come from a man of God who was continually praying and reading the Bible.
Telling the 78 members of the two prayer groups that he knew he was preaching to the choir, Will set forth a compelling list of reasons to pray even more.
“There’s two things non-Christians can’t argue about,” Will said. “One is a changed life. The others are answered prayers…may our answered prayers help turn people back to God.”
On Thursday, the groups toured the Billy Graham Library. They saw Billy Graham’s ministry come to life through videos and exhibits that tell the story of how God used a farm boy from North Carolina to change the world.
Many of the guests wiped away tears, as their visit reminded them of the powerful role of prayer in spreading the Gospel around the world.
“It’s helped me today to remember why we do what we do,” said NPC member Jennifer Kennedy. “Prayer changes the earth.”
“Tears just welled up in my eyes,” said Earl Pickard from Hutchinson, Kan. “Just to think God used one man to touch the entire world. And all the people behind him who prayed for him and supported him.”
NPC member Jeff Eckart was saved at the 1980 Billy Graham Crusade in Indianapolis when he was just nine years old. But he didn’t expect the Library to have such a powerful effect on him.
Now a husband and father of three, Eckart recently started a ministry called Claim Your Campus. What began with a group of 10 students has grown to encompass 45,000 students meeting in 3,000 middle and high schools around the country, praying for their campuses.
It turns out, Eckart is part of that same legacy that touched him in a powerful way this week at the Billy Graham Library.
“What’s really shocked me, personally, is just how much it’s moved me,” Eckart said. “It’s incredibly inspiring.”
For more information on visiting the Billy Graham Library, click here.