The Continental Congress allocated time in 1775 to pray as they formed their new nation. President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of prayer in 1863 in the midst of the Civil War. President Harry Truman enacted legislation on April 17, 1952 to put a National Day of Prayer into law in the United States of America, President Ronald Reagan amended that law in 1988 to declare the first Thursday of May each year to be the National Day of Prayer.
Around 3,000 years ago another famous leader realized the importance of prayer. Let’s look at King Solomon, King David’s son, as he demonstrates some reasons to pray in the Book of II Chronicles.
First, he was moved to prayer when he recognized how God had blessed his life. Chapter 1 verse 1 says God was with him and magnified him exceedingly. When we look at our lives, we can see many ways that God has blessed us. Living in the freedoms we enjoy in this Country and the ability to read these words are just a couple of things that we enjoy that much of the world have never experienced. Rather than look at injustices and inequalities that do exist, let’s concentrate for a few moments at our relationship with our God.
Second, he prayed because he knew that prayer changes things. In Chapter 1 verse 10, Solomon desired to be equipped to better serve the Lord. Hopefully, we would react like that if God told us He would give us anything we wanted. What a refreshing attitude when our natural desires are to only think of how our lives could be easier. It touches the heart of God when his people put spiritual over material and eternal over temporal.
Third, he prayed because he knew that God can do far more than we can expect. He knew that God could give him great direction for his country. Far better vision than he could ever come up with on his own. Chapter 1 verse 12 says that God was going to answer his request for wisdom and understanding, but He was also going to give him riches, wealth, and honor like no other king before or after him would experience. The wealth of King Solomon is mind bottling. You can Google his worth and you will be amazed. The top 10 wealthiest people are listed in one reference I ran across. Number 2 on the list was John D. Rockefeller who’s worth was $663.4 billion. King Solomon is number 1 at $2.1 trillion. Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20 of our God who can do exceedingly abundantly above what we can ask or thing. Ask God to meet your needs and the needs of this world and let’s see what He does.
Fourth, he prayed because he knew that God appreciates us putting our trust in Him. Chapter 7 verses 1 and 2 describe how God moved in their midst. His glory filled the temple in a way that was far more impressive than the physical beauty of the temple itself. Again, you can Google the value of the Temple that Solomon built. Based on amounts recorded in the Bible, it has been estimated that over 20 tons of gold was used. The total cost of building the Temple today has been put at over 150 billion dollars. Oh, to experience the presence of the Lord in our lives.
Fifth, he prayed because he saw every day as a day to pray. Chapter 7 verse 14 is God giving guidance to His people of all generations. He wants people to humble themselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from their evil ways. What a thought that God Himself says He will hear from Heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land. We certainly need that healing. The key to unlock the answer is prayer.
It is honorable that some leaders of our land have chosen to encourage us to honor the National Day of Prayer. As we remember this Day on the first Thursday of May, let’s allow it to be a reminder to make every day a personal day of prayer in our lives. There are certainly many reasons to pray, and I cannot think of any reasons to not pray. Excuses, too many to count, but zero, nada, zilch reasons.
Rev. Ron Swiger is the chaplain for Greene Memorial Hospital and guest columnist.