Today is the National Day of Prayer
Established by Congress in 1952, the decision was made in 1988 to set aside the first Thursday of May to observe the National Day of Prayer. Traditionally, the President makes a proclamation on the National Day of Prayer calling the nation to pray and then he hosts religious leaders and publicly observes the National Day of Prayer in the White House.
But not this year.
President Obama has decided that this year he will give the proclamation but there will be no guests or public observance in the White House. According to his press secretary, Robert Gibbs, President Obama prefers to pray in private.
Now, I’m all for private prayer and I practice private prayer myself, but the President of the United States is not a private position but a public one. President Obama is our leader. And this year he has chosen to lead this nation away from public prayer. Remember, you lead by modeling. Should a nation, on a public scale, call upon God and seek His face? Yes. Consider the pagan king of Nineveh in the Old Testament book of Jonah.
Jonah 3:6-9 (ESV)
6 The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. 7 And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, 8 but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. 9 Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.”
Did this king seek to petition God in private? No, because he was a leader that understood that people were watching. And as the king goes so go the people. So he prayed publicly and called his nation to public prayer. This change in the public observation of the National Day of Prayer by President Obama worries me. It worries me for our nation and it worries me for him personally. Yes, it also makes me wonder what kind of Christian he is and if he is even a Christian at all. God only knows, but his actions regarding the National Day of Prayer don’t even rise to the level of the pagan king of Nineveh.