Special to the Register
From coast to coast, followers of Christ will unite the first Thursday in May to ask blessings on the United States during the 62nd National Day of Prayer.
This year’s observance occurs during a particularly poignant period, just days after backpack bombs echoed through the streets of historic Boston and an unexpected inferno shattered the serenity of the Texas heartland.
But the recent tragedies borne by the nation make the prayer date all the more essential, some local church officials say.
“Look at our country,” said Cathy Stroud, leader of the Prayer Ministry of First Baptist Church, Gainesville. “Look at all the needs in our country. And we know that God is the One to ask.”
Honoring the National Day of Prayer, FBC will host a luncheon May 2 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
“It’s a free lunch, and all the community’s invited,” Stroud said. “Our purpose – our purpose is to pray.”
The deep roots of the National Day of Prayer date to 1952, the last full year of the Truman Administration.
The Cold War raged, with American warriors on the ground and in the air in Korea.
Then as now, the United States was walking a dark valley of foreign conflict and social upheaval. President Harry S. Truman took pen in hand April 17 to sign into law a bill calling for a National Day of Prayer to be declared by each president on the date of his choice.
Thirty years later, a committee formed to work for a fixed annual day of prayer for Christians, coordinated on local, state and federal levels.
In 1988, an amendment set the NDP on the first Thursday of each May.
President Ronald Reagan, dedicating the 1983 NDP, noted that Americans of vision always have sought God’s divine guidance for their country.
“This occasion provides our nation with an opportunity to further recognize the source of our blessings, and to seek His help for the challenges we face today and in the future,” Reagan said.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force reports that the theme for the 2013 observance is Pray for America, “emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men.”
In conjunction with the theme, Matthew 12:21 is the scripture for this year: “In His name the nations will put their hope.”
Greg Laurie, senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, California and Harvest Orange County in Irvine, California, is honorary chairman of NDP 2013.
His heart-felt petition for another Great Awakening in America will echo in Gainesville and across the United States on Thursday.