Our national Congress has declared the first Thursday of each May to be a National Day of Prayer. The PCA Directory for Worship states, "If at any time the civil power should appoint a fast or thanksgiving, in keeping with the Christian faith, it is the duty of the ministers and people of our communion to pay all due respect to it" (The Book of Church Order, 62-3). I encourage you, therefore, to set Thursday, May 7th, 2009 aside as a day of prayer and thanksgiving for Christ's Church, this nation, and the people of all nations. As you pray, please keep in mind the biblical teachings on prayer:
1 Thessalonians 5:17 - Pray without ceasing...
As Christians we are called to be in a continual state of prayer and communion with our Lord and God. For the Christian, every day is a day of prayer.
Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Remember the model of the early church, frequently gathering together to pray for God's strength and blessing. Do not forsake the regular and frequent gatherings for prayer within our own church (Sunday morning/evening; small groups; Wednesday evening ministries, etc.).
2 Chronicles 7:14 If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Remember that this prayer is not for a particular modern nation, but for God's people, the church. As God's people our first duty in prayer is to humble ourselves before God in repentance, confessing our sin and pleading his grace and mercy which has been poured out upon us through Christ.
Matthew 6:5-6 And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Prayer ought never to become a public display or grounds for boasting in our own righteousness. Instead, pray fervently and secretly with the knowledge that God hears our prayers and faithfully answers them. Remember Jesus' model of ministry which included much public teaching and much private prayer.
Ephesians 1:16-21 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, for above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
Give Christ a place of centrality in your prayers. Follow Paul's model of prayer, praying that others would know Christ who is supremely exalted and supremely worth knowing. Season your prayer with biblical language and praise to God.
Colossians 4:3 Pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ...
Like Paul, pray for the advancement of the gospel, that the mystery of Christ and his saving work would be made known among the multitudes who do not know him.
Matthew 9:38 Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.
Pray for the lost. Pray for faithful Christian laborers to go into the world to spread the gospel.
Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
Pray for your church leaders at all levels (pastors, officers, teachers, WIC, etc.) Pray for steadfastness in faith, truth and practice.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly an dignified in every way...
Pray for government leaders on every level, that they would honor true justice and rule in submission to the moral law of God.
As we pray this Thursday (and indeed, everyday!), may God use our prayers for his glory, and may he transform our hearts in such a way that we continually grow in our knowledge of Christ.