Today is the National Day of Prayer. As a Christian I am thankful for the freedom to pray in Jesus’ name in the nation’s capitol. I will join millions in praying for our nation. In our opinion, it is not only a matter of personal liberty; it is a privilege to pray for the peace, protection, and prosperity of our nation.
I do not see any conflict with my faith and the constitution. I also see no conflict with other faiths, which are free to pray on this day as well. My views are contrary to last month’s ruling of Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin. She, and a growing number of atheists, secularists, and others, are somehow threatened by both prayer and the folks they call the “religious right.” To call the National Day of Prayer unconstitutional is as absurd as saying that if the president throws the first ball at a baseball game that he is abusing his powers as our national leader.
So why the controversy? America is a majority Christian nation with a strong belief in religious liberty for all faiths. If this were a nation in Africa, South America, or another continent, there would be no question that the majority faith would conduct prayers and religious observances.
Last week I addressed this question based on a political worldview - left versus right. Today I want to think about the question of why people chafe at the idea of a National Day of Prayer from a spiritual point of view. Yesterday, at a men’s prayer gathering in which I had the privilege of preaching along side of Franklin Graham, James Dobson, and Tony Perkins, I had a very simple epiphany. I realized that the nation has to choose whether it will make room for God or not. I realized that we are at a unique generational crossroads. This generation must decide if America will continue as a Christian Nation or not. A Christian nation in practice - not just in lip service.
Perhaps there is a bigger, divine game plan involved in the controversy around prayer this year. As a Christian I believe that God has a game plan for the nation, but the activation of that plan requires the prayers of the people of faith. Shirley and James Dobson have simply given unity and focus to the much-needed prayer for our nation.
Bishop Harry Jackson is chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition and senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Beltsville, MD, and co-authored, Personal Faith, Public Policy [FrontLine; March 2008] with Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.