Make a commitment for National Prayer Day

Published 12:55 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

By R.A. Mathews

Today is National Prayer Day.

We’re watching the unfolding of an unbelievable world event—North and South Korea are seeking unification. Ironically, it was North Korea that united this country behind the National Day of Prayer.

In 1952, during the Korean War, a 33-year-old evangelist organized a D.C. rally. Facing a nation fearing Communism, Billy Graham stood on the Capitol steps and asked for a day for prayer.

Within weeks, Congress unanimously passed the bill. That law now requires the President to declare a National Day of Prayer on the first Thursday of every May.

Billy Graham was virtually unknown until 1949 when he drew large crowds in Los Angeles. There, Graham delivered a fiery call for repentance.

That call blazes across Scripture. Consider Jehoshaphat and Jeremiah.

Almost 3,000 years ago, King Jehoshaphat reigns in Southern Israel (Judah). When he learns of a vast, three-nation army approaching his country, Jehoshaphat turns his people to God. They repent with fasting, and God is pleased.

God’s prophet tells Jehoshaphat that Israel won’t have to fight, but to go out to the enemy. It doesn’t make sense, but Jehoshaphat leads his small army to meet the mighty invaders. There he finds an unbelievable sight. The three nations have turned on each other, and every enemy soldier is dead.

Jehoshaphat led Israel to repent, but some 300 years later his nation will be destroyed.

Why? God’s people refused to turn to Him, despite the prophet Jeremiah’s dire words. God says, “I have given the beloved of my soul into the hands of her enemies.”

Could it happen to America? Some say it already has.

We’re destroying ourselves. It’s no longer someone else’s school; someone else’s church; someone else’s restaurant, workplace, or city street. We must change, and we need God’s guidance.

Yet Scripture makes clear that God will walk away without repentance.

John the Baptist shouts, “Repent.” Peter’s first word of guidance is “Repent.” Paul’s preaching begins with repentance. Matthew 3:2, Acts 2:38, Acts 26:20

Before Jesus calls a disciple, He says, “Repent.” Matthew 4:17

And Billy Graham not only preached repentance from the get-go, he rebuked today’s ministers for not doing so.

What does it mean—repentance? Not a word you hear often. I call it “confession with a plan.”

Today, for National Prayer Day, take a notebook and draw a line down the center of the first page, creating two columns. In the first, record each time you disappointed the Lord yesterday. In the second column, opposite each wrongdoing, write down your plan. What will you do differently next time?

Keep this Repentance Journal where you pray. Expect to see similar entries day after day.

Praying with God in this laser fashion, focusing on your wrongs, will bring change. But adding a plan is like a booster rocket. It will take you a whole lot farther, a whole lot faster. Scripture says, “Repent and turn to God, doing works worthy of repentance.” Acts 26:20

This National Prayer Day, make that commitment.


© 2018 R.A. Mathews The Rev. Mathews is an attorney, columnist, ordained minister, and the author of “Reaching to God: Great Truths from the Bible.”