Bible Marathon Begins Ahead of Nat'l Day of Prayer

“In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.”

Announcing these famous sacred words, organizers of the National Day of Prayer began their nonstop, five-day Bible reading marathon at the steps of the U.S. Capitol building Sunday night.

“You can hear us way down the National Mall,” said Terry Hall, a main organizer for the marathon, on Monday. “We’re reading the whole Bible from cover to cover.”

Some 500 Christians are expected to join the annual U.S. Capitol Bible Reading Marathon, now at its 17th year, to read the Word of God aloud for 90 hours “continuously and without commentary” and pray in preparation for the National Day of Prayer this Thursday.

“We have people of all ages and all backgrounds,” explained Hall. “We have the Bible available in 80 languages, and we will be meeting people from all around the world.”

The Bible-reading marathon began in 1990 and leads up to the larger National Day of Prayer where millions of Christians join in prayer to intercede for America and its leadership.

While there have been many national days of prayer in the U.S. for centuries, it wasn’t until the Cold War that the holiday was made official. Congress in 1952 passed a joint resolution recognizing the day of prayer and President Harry S. Truman signed it into law.

The intention of the National Day of Prayer was always to be a day for members of all faiths to pray together in their own way to commemorate God. “The United States was born in prayer and founded on a relationship with God while instituting His biblical principals and moral values,” a description from the National Day of Prayer Task Force states.

However, with its staff members working out of the Colorado Springs offices of the evangelical group Focus on the Family, the event has become a clearly Judeo-Christian commemoration.

According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force’s Vision and Values statement, the group seeks to “foster unity within the Christian Church,” and “publicize and preserve America’s Christian heritage” while respecting “all people, regardless of denomination or creed.”

“We are the Judeo-Christian expression of the National Day of Prayer,” the Task Force statement continues. “…The National Day of Prayer Task Force exists to communicate with every individual the need for personal repentance and prayer, mobilizing the Christian community to intercede for America and its leadership.”

The Bible reading marathon, which began at 8 p.m. on Sunday night, is also open to people of all faiths, but will likely draw Christian participants like the Rev. Michael Hall, Executive Director of the International Bible Reading Association.

"I believe God is using this vision singularly to call this nation back to the simplicity of God's Holy Word, the Bible...” said Hall. “All of the participants – workers, organizations, churches, legislators, and clergy – come here for one reason alone, to honor the Bible, God's Word, by reading it without comment or interruption from beginning to end."

The Marathon concludes on May 4 with an hour-long ceremony at noon, during which attendees will read the final two chapters of the book of Revelation in unison. Later that day, thousands more are expected to come to the National Mall for the official National Day of Prayer celebration.

To find local National Day of Prayer events, visit: ndptf.org.