When Congress, by a joint resolution, established the National Day of Prayer in 1952, and President Harry S. Truman signed it, there was no squabble about it.
“It was a bipartisan, unanimous vote,” said Dr. Cheryl Steen, a chiropractor who has organized Teller County’s annual event for the past decade.
Now, political division is a topic people will be lifting up in prayer on Thursday, the 70th anniversary of the observance.
“It’s important for Americans to be praying because God really does answer prayers, and America is facing a lot of challenges today,” said Colorado Congressman Doug Lamborn, a Republican whose five-county district includes El Paso and Teller counties.
“There are health challenges from COVID, challenges to our national unity with people so divided, and challenges for the future,” he said. “And we need wisdom to make good decisions for our nation’s policies.”
Lamborn will be praying at The Road at Chapel Hills Thursday evening. The church is one of many local participants in this year’s event, themed “Lord, pour out your love, life and liberty,” based on the Bible verse 2 Corinthians 3:17.
The day was set aside for people to engage in unified public prayer for America, recognizing that, “in times of national crisis when we are striving to strengthen the foundations of peace and security we stand in special need of divine support,” according to the resolution of 1952.
Under President Ronald Reagan, the first Thursday in May became the designated observance. Judeo-Christian worshippers primarily participate.
A live national broadcast from Washington, D.C., will air at 6 p.m. mountain time, Thursday, on television via Daystar, God TV and other channels, on radio stations and streaming on Facebook and on its website: https://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/2021_national_observance.
Political and spiritual leaders will pray for healing and revival.
Participants at events around the nation will pray for families, churches, schools, businesses, media, arts, culture, military, law enforcement, courts, government and elected officials.
The areas represent the “columns” that a civilization is built on, Steen said.
“Our country needs all the prayers she can get,” she said. “Every year, it’s more desperate.”
The nation seems to be in a fragile state, said Paul Batura, vice president of communications for Focus on the Family, a nonprofit organization in Colorado Springs that used to house the task force that oversees the National Day of Prayer.
“There’s a lot of things to be burdened by — the overall place of the nation, racial relations, the contentiousness between political parties, the divisiveness, the health of the family, the challenges with children that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.”
Focus on the Family staff will gather Thursday morning to pray.
“God’s not a cosmic butler tending to our needs,” Batura said. “So often we become so heavily burdened by our problems, we don’t remember there is a creator of the universe to hear us, to recognize us. The National Day of Prayer is a good reminder.”
The country is in an unprecedented time, said Sean Edwards, worship coordinator at Sunnyside Christian Church in Colorado Springs, which is hosting a worship and prayer service at 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
“It’s important for Christians to rise up in prayer, to come to a place of unity and pray for a breakthrough,” he said. “Right now, the country truly just needs Jesus.”
Teller County’s event starts at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, and for the first time will be held outside, at Memorial Park in Woodland Park.
The Rev. Richard Harris, pastor of Grace and Faith Bible Church in Woodland Park, will moderate the event, which will include participants in small groups praying for the focus areas.
The activity usually draws between 50 and 150 people, Steen said.
“Good luck in stopping God,” Steen said of those who work to stifle religious freedoms. “People will always be praying.”
Faith groups are split on the way the country is being run under Democratic President Joe Biden.
In the first three months of his presidency, Biden received 58% approval from Catholics of the job he’s done, 47% approval from Protestants and 71% approval from the “nones” — people who self-identify as having no religious affiliation, according to a Gallup poll.
Some have praised and others have decried Biden’s actions to further abortion rights and expand federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people. Loosening border control and refugee policies also has simultaneously produced support and criticism from differing religious persuasions.
Leaders of Biden’s own Catholic faith don’t want him as a role model, the Associated Press reported last week. U.S. bishops will consider at a June meeting clarifying that public figures such as Biden, who supports abortion on demand, should not present themselves for Communion, since the Catholic Church views abortion as a mortal sin.