Today is a national day of prayer in the United States. According to Wikipedia, the first Thursday in May each year was designated by the United States Congress as a day when people are encouraged to turn to God in prayer and meditation. This day was made an official annual observance by Congress in 1952. The law calls on the President to make a proclamation designating the day of prayer each year.
Yesterday, President Obama issued the proclamation designating today as a day of prayer. Some quotes from his proclamation: "I join the citizens of our Nation in giving thanks, in accordance with our own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and in asking for God's continued guidance, mercy, and protection." "Today and every day, prayers will be offered in houses of worship, at community gatherings, in our homes, and in neighborhoods all across our country. Let us give thanks for the freedom to practice our faith as we see fit, whether individually or in fellowship." "...Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing. In times of hardship and tragedy, and in periods of peace and prosperity, prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose." "Prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support. In the aftermath of senseless acts of violence, the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness."
Here is a quote from a "National Day of Prayer" website (nationaldayofprayer.org) in a link at the bottom "How to Pray": "Talk to the Holy Spirit. Tell Him you want to know Him."
National Day of Prayer website:
National Day of Prayer website page on "How to Pray":
On this day, there are often public gatherings for prayer and speeches and prayers are given by politicians and religious leaders.
What does God think about all this? What would Jesus Christ say about this if He were on earth today? Would he commend the nation for its day of prayer? Or would He rebuke us for our hypocrisy?
"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46).
"And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words" (Matthew 6:5-7).
President Obama, in his proclamation, said he joined the citizens of the United States in praying according to our own "faiths and consciences". He also gives thanks for the freedom to practice "our faith as we see fit." In other words, there is the implication that it doesn't matter what you believe or what god you pray to. The important thing, in this proclamation, is that you pray to somebody. There is no mention of Christianity. You can pray to any god, to Buddha, to Baal, to any demon, as long as it is prayer. Our ancestors in the time of Elijah would have felt comfortable with that kind of tolerance. "So they took the bull which was given them, and they prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even till noon, saying, 'O Baal, hear us!' But there was no voice; no one answered. Then they leaped about the altar which they had made" (1 Kings 18:26).
When this nation prays, who does it pray to? The true God of the Bible? Most people do not know God, nor do they want to know the true God, because if you show them what the true God of the Bible teaches, they turn away. Do they pray to a trinity? Do they pray to a god they have invented in their own imagination, a god that approves of what they do, a god that agrees with their religious traditions?
He also said he asked for "God's continued guidance, mercy, and protection". "Guidance?" He wants God's GUIDANCE? The Bible is full of God's guidance, which this whole nation, not just the president, rejects and despises.
"Also on your skirts is found the blood of the lives of the poor innocents. I have not found it by secret search, but plainly on all these things" (Jeremiah 2:34).
"Moreover they have done this to Me: They have defiled My sanctuary on the same day and profaned My Sabbaths. For after they had slain their children for their idols, on the same day they came into My sanctuary to profane it; and indeed thus they have done in the midst of My house" (Ezekiel 23:38-39).
"You have despised My holy things and profaned My Sabbaths" (Ezekiel 22:8).
"These are the feasts of the Lord, holy convocations which you shall proclaim at their appointed times" (Leviticus 23:3).
"Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; Do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them. For the customs of the peoples are futile; For one cuts a tree from the forest, the work of the hands of the workman, with the ax. They decorate it with silver and gold; They fasten it with nails and hammers so that it will not topple" (Jeremiah 10:2-4).
"Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it" (Deuteronomy 12:32).
I could go on, there are many more commands and instructions and guidance from God that we as a nation reject.
I think the hypocrisy of many religious people and political leaders who pretend to be religious is so thick here you might need a chain saw to cut all the way through it.
Look further at President Obama's proclamation. It is full of the secular, materialistic view of prayer. Prayer is not looked upon primarily as a way of communicating with God. It is looked on as a method of self-comfort, that is, the idea that prayer has a psychological effect on our minds to make us feel better, whether God exists to answer our prayers or not, and the idea that group prayer gives people a sense of community and mutual support. God is mentioned very little if you read the whole proclamation, but this sense that prayer, with or without God's answer, is self-comforting is there: "Americans have prayed as a means of uniting, guiding, and healing," "prayer has provided reassurance, sustenance, and affirmation of common purpose," "prayer brings communities together and can be a wellspring of strength and support," "the prayers of countless Americans signal to grieving families and a suffering community that they are not alone. Their pain is a shared pain, and their hope a shared hope. Regardless of religion or creed, Americans reflect on the sacredness of life and express their sympathy for the wounded, offering comfort and holding up a light in an hour of darkness."
Not one word about seeking God so that God actually answers our prayers.
I don't think there is much in the proclamation that an atheist or agnostic would strongly object to.
Certainly it is good to pray to the true God of the Bible, and God knows the hearts of those who are seeking God through Bible study and have a willingness and desire to believe and obey God's Word. And these people, who are sincere, may not yet know much of God's truth, but they will learn. God does not reject the prayers of everyone outside His true Church. Some may have accepted their mainstream traditions because they have not heard the truth yet and they do not understand the Bible. God is able to judge each man's heart to know if his ignorance is innocent or willful.
There is an example in Mr. Armstrong's autobiography of a man who prayed for healings and God answered his prayers even though the man did not keep the Sabbath. Then Mr. Armstrong showed him the truth about the Sabbath from the Bible, but the man rejected it. And from that time on, God no longer answered his prayers for healing. Until that man had the opportunity to know the truth, God did not hold his ignorance and sin against him and He still answered his prayers. But once he rejected the truth, God rejected him.
God can look at each person and know his or her heart.
But most people in the United States are not willing to believe and strive to obey what God says in the Bible. The person who is willing to believe and obey the truth when he or she sees it in the Bible is the exception, not the rule.
What we really need is a National Day of Obedience. We need a National Day of Confessing Our Sins. We need a National Day of Believing What God Says in the Bible.
"One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination" (Proverbs 28:9).
We in the Church of God should pray for the good of our nation, that God may give us more time to get a warning message out and so the nation has more time to repent, that He will bless and protect the United States till the Church can get a message of repentance, the true gospel, and the Ezekiel warning about the tribulation to come to everyone. And anyone in or out of the Church of God who sincerely wants to learn from the God of the Bible and strive to do what He says should pray, not just on this one day, but every day for the good of our country. And I think God will answer our prayers. But I do not think He will answer the prayers of the majority of people who treat his word contemptuously, not willing to believe Him, not trying to obey Him, but making a god out of their traditions and opinions.