We looked at the clouds in the unsettled sky, watched the trees blowing from the remaining wind of last night’s storm, and frustratingly grabbed our winter coats. I have to admit I had a bit of an attitude over the weather as we headed out to the National Day of Prayer ceremonies downtown, in the Lake City.
We arrived in good time, however, and my spirits began to lift as I saw the people gathered in front of City Hall. I had missed the last two years due to our business, but there were already more people here than I had ever seen attend before….and it was still fifteen minutes before the event was scheduled to begin.
I remember when Matt was little and we began attending this event. There were no scheduled speakers, no microphones; merely a group of people that desired to pray.
At that time, we broke up into small groups of four or five and with no specific guidelines, we prayed among ourselves for the things that were on our heart. We of course wanted to be intercessors for every aspect of our city and nation as we prayed for our President, our state representatives, our city officials, as well as our police, firemen and military. I remember specifically one year, there was a particular group of people that weighed heavily on my mind. And that was the youth of the city and especially those that were involved with, or addicted to drugs. As I continued in prayer and tried to form the words flowing from my heart over this group of people, I only began to cry…almost sobbing. Thankfully a lady from our group took the lead and prayed instead. I sensed she had a heart for my tears and the concerns that I had not even been able to articulate. Pretty soon the lady was simply praying for this distraught woman in tears and the burden she (me) carried. Not what I wanted to happen. When we finished praying and I looked about, I almost broke into tears once again as I saw the person, that specifically brought me to my burden for the drug abusers of our city. This person was peaceful and comfortable and not a bit out of place among these people of prayer, but this person was also still an addict. I rejoiced; and quickly went over for a hug and to offer an invitation to lunch. We went to lunch at nearby Crickets and had a wonderful time of fellowship that I treasure to this day.
Now all these years later, prayers for this person have more than been fulfilled. Not specifically from the prayers on that day, but especially from a family’s prayers which were steadfast and consistent.
Anyway, those were heartfelt memories from just one of the National Day of Prayer meetings I had attended. This year of 2010 though, things were quite different. There were more people here than I had ever seen before. This was especially pleasing in light of the efforts to ban this National day at the federal level. And to top things off, the sun was now peaking through the clouds, and before the event was over, I was removing my heavy winter coat and realized I had chosen the wrong dress as I relaxed in the warmth of the sun that was now comfortably covering these brothers and sisters in Christ.
In our county, I had watched this event grow and change over the years and the changes that came were good. Now, the event began with a local band singing praises to our Lord as we waited for others to join the growing numbers and for the clock to reach the top of the hour. There was not only someone leading the ceremony, but this year, there were twelve pastors from churches around the county. I guess in respect to the way it had originated, some would say it was a bit more sterile; but if that is so, for me it was a welcome change to have orchestrated prayer rather than me just bawling my eyes out, and laying my soul out barren like that in front of people I don’t even know. This year, I watched as I saw friends from church, my fellow homeschoolers, and others that were just old family friends that were all united for one specific purpose. I enjoyed seeing people I knew and loved, but it also became very clear this was family, whether I knew anyone, or not.
Each pastor had been appointed a prayer focus and read a verse from the Bible that related to their prayer focus. As is usual we prayed for our President, government officials, our military, and our local community leaders. We prayed for our county residents and our youth. I especially appreciated it and I think others did, too, when one pastor asked us to choose a particular direction as the focus of our prayers. That way all directions would be visually covered: North, South, East, and West. I surprised myself when I chose west, when we actually live north, but as we were praying I was thankful I was facing west when I realized that was the direction of my church home. It was just one of those little things that you know, that you know that God orchestrated your direction. Just a little thing, but I found this particularly moving.
We broke between pastors’ prayers for a song or two; and it was apparent those attending were attentive and responsive, all actively engaged and I knew this was good. I realized that yes, this was different but no, it was not sterile at all. For most, I would suspect this was much more comfortable than those meetings in the early days.
We continued in our prayers for individual and national repentance, for humility before the Lord and for strength not in our own power, but strength in the Lord. Finally prayer was offered for an outpouring of God’s grace upon us.
Sometimes all seems hopeless. We look at the direction our nation is taking, the confusion in our churches, the degradation of our society, and all that is taking place throughout our cities. It can be overwhelming and everything can feel extremely futile. But this year, as I left the National Day of Prayer ceremonies, I was wrapped not only in the warmth of the sun, but also the warmth of prayer. I remembered and reflected on the day that I attended this event, when as we finished our prayers, I looked up into the face of the person that I love; the one that had moved me to prayer for a specific group in the first place. This year I stopped to reflect upon this person’s life and the awesome servant of God this person has become. It is an amazing miracle. A miracle big enough to offer the hope we need when on the outer surface, nothing looks very good. A miracle big enough to make one stop to remember and not doubt, the awesome God we serve. We don’t need those miracles to make us believe, we shouldn’t require a sign, but the truth of the matter is: those kinds of miracles are the sun that comes out and warms us when we have an attitude.
Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. Daniel 10: 12