In a society riddled with division and unrest, this year's National Day of Prayer will focus on praying for unity within the Church, in the family, and across racial and political lines, according to Pastor Ronnie Floyd.
Floyd, president of National Day of Prayer Task Force and senior pastor at Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas, told The Christian Post that the theme of the May 3 event is anchored around Ephesians 4:3: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace."
"The greatest need in the country is for something to happen spiritually to set us right and pull us together," he said. "Man does not have the ability to do that; it's going to be one thing, and that's God alone. Biblically speaking, unity is supernatural and I think it's important, especially for those who profess Christ, to really stand up in their communities and pray for America. It is the only hope for our country."
Created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman, the National Day of Prayer is an annual observance inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. As in years past, millions of Americans are expected to gather in Washington, D.C. and across thousands of events in all 50 states to pray together for America.
This year, President Trump will issue a National Day of Prayer presidential proclamation, and Frank Pomeroy, pastor of the Texas church where 26 people including his daughter, Annabelle, were massacred by a crazed gunman last November, will join the president for a prayer service at 11 a.m. at the White House.
Floyd told CP he's been "encouraged" by the thousands of prayer events planned at churches, schools, and other venues across the United States.
"America needs to see God's people praying and see that we view prayer as important," he said. "I think it's gonna be an exciting day, it's gonna be a wonderful day to come together."
The pastor expressed hope that all Americans would "find a way to pray for the U.S.," this Thursday, as even those who don't know Christ understand the country is broken.
"They know there's not a politician or political persuasion to bring it together and there's nothing else that will bring it together, but they don't know the answer," he explained. "This is a strong, clear opportunity for every Christian in America to sound loudly that Jesus Christ is the answer. Every person needs a relationship with God and we will do everything we can to live out in unity in our relationships."
What to Pray For
First and foremost, Christians must pray for unity in the Church, Floyd argued, as a "divided Church cannot call a divided nation to unity."
"We must come together as the Church of Jesus Christ, and this ought to be a day that we check some of our secondary differences theologically," he said. "There are higher things that we can unite on. We believe the Bible is God's Word, absolute authority, and that Jesus Christ is the answer. Most Christians can agree with those basics. We're encouraging people to pray for unity in the Church in America because they need it desperately."
Floyd also urged believers to pray for unity in families across America: "Families aren't representing what unity is about," he contended. "One of the most dysfunctional places in the world right now is the family. The Church mimics the family, so the family needs to lead the way."
Amid increased racial tension across the U.S., Floyd, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, stressed the importance of praying for unity among "all ethnicities and people groups in America."
"We are seeing things in our culture over the last several years that have gone to new heights," he said. "A real trigger event was what happened in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014. At the time, I had just had been elected president of the SBC and I was immediately involved with forwarding racial unity as a result of that. But it seems like since that time, there's been a constant acceleration of racial unrest and racial tension, and we need to pray that God brings unity in that."
Finally, Floyd asked Christians to pray for the security of U.S. schools, churches, and other public structures — and that God brings spiritual revival to America.
"This country was shaped by great spiritual awakenings of the past, and that's why we have the spiritual heritage we have today," he said. "We need that kind of awakening to happen in our generation. God knows we need it now more than ever before."
Ahead of Thursday's event, Floyd and his team have been encouraging people of faith to join him in saying the 2018 National Prayer.
"Lord, in this critical hour in our nation, we pray for unity in America. Only You can bring unity, harmony, and oneness in America. As Your Word calls us in Ephesians 4:3, 'Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace,' we ask You to empower us to make every effort to live in unity, to call for unity, and to forward unity in America continually," the prayer says in part.
"We pray for the churches in America to unify in Jesus Christ and to pray as one unified spiritual family for America. May Your Church pray for America passionately, perpetually, privately, and publicly. We pray for God's power to unify families, workplaces, communities, and cities in America. By Your Spirit, lead us to forgiveness, reconciliation, healing, and unity," it continues.
To find National Day of Prayer events near you, click here.