By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
Millions of Christians are expected to gather at churches and various sites throughout the United States May 5 with the single purpose of calling out to God as part of the annual National Day of Prayer.
Created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Harry S Truman, this annual observance is held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation.
Louisiana Baptist Convention President Gevan Spinney said now is the time to cry out to God for a revival and the National Day of Prayer presents the perfect opportunity to focus on that one task. He plans to join fellow members at First Baptist Church in Haughton, where he serves as pastor, in the worship center from noon to 1 p.m.
“We have lost many of our freedoms in America while we sleep,” Spinney said. “As believers prepare to gather around our country on May 5, 2016, we are reminded that we have a freedom that can never be lost, and that freedom is prayer. In my lifetime, this country has not been at a greater crossroad than we are right now. As the church, we must cry out to God for revival, for a move of the Holy Spirit of God that would shake us and wake us from our slumber.”
Jay Johnston, state coordinator for the Louisiana National Day of Prayer Task Force and associate pastor at First Baptist Covington, stressed the importance of a day of corporate prayer across the country.
“We have a wonderful opportunity to come together and cry out to the Lord in church houses, on the steps of courthouses and at community centers, playgrounds, homes, places of business along with many other locations to pray for each other as well as for our churches, government, media, education, military, businesses, and families,” he said.
This year’s National Day of Prayer theme is “Wake Up America,” based on Isaiah 58:1 – “Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet.”
Tony Evans is national chairman of what the National Day of Prayer Task Force describes as a “grass roots movement” in which local churches or communities plan how, when and where they want to pray, and the specific content of those prayers.
Evans has written the National Prayer that is available at www.NationalDayOfPrayer.org, a website that provides helpful information including what prayer is, why pray, how to begin and key Bible verses on prayer.
Millions of people are expected to pray at thousands of events across the United States, from church sanctuaries to community centers to courthouse steps. In Louisiana, a National Day of Prayer event will take place in the state Senate chambers at the State Capitol building from noon to 1 pm.
First Baptist Church in Minden is one of several Louisiana Baptist congregations holding National Day of Prayers events. It will host a time of prayer and Scripture reading in its sanctuary, followed by a light lunch.
First Baptist Church in Hornbeck will join others in the community for a prayer walk, beginning at noon at the city’s town hall.
Later that evening, First Baptist Church in Covington and Philadelphia Baptist Church in Deville will host separate prayer gatherings.
Philadelphia Baptist will host a National Day of Prayer Community Service at 6:30 pm while First Baptist Covington’s prayer gathering will commence at 7 pm.
Ricky Belgard, prayer minister at Philadelphia Baptist, said that while it is important to pray often, observing a special day of prayer is important considering that “God’s alarm clock has gone off in America and we dare not push the snooze button and roll over for a few more minutes of sleep.” He said now is the time for America to wake up and go to war to win against Satan’s forces.
“Folks, we live in a time when there is a disturbing trend of trying to remove God and prayer from all aspects of American public life,” Belgard said. “But in the National Day of Prayer community service we unite as brothers and sisters in Christ, to proclaim that we are still, one nation under God. We believe our God is still – on the throne, that He reigns victorious over all, and we believe that He is still answering prayer.”
For more information on coordinating a National Day of Prayer event, e-mail Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.