By Dr. Kelli Criss
On Thursday, May 7, 2020, Florida’s National Day of Prayer (NDP), was hosted via livestream by the Florida Prayer Network along with Hilltop House of Prayer. Today’s blog, Florida’s 2020 National Day of Prayer, shares the prayers of civil government and faith leaders during the event and the history of the NDP.
Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, Governor Ron DeSantis, Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez, CFO Jimmy Patronis, Attorney General Ashley Moody, and Representative Mel Ponder along with Florida’s civic government and faith leaders sought God’s blessing for our beloved state and country during Florida’s NDP.
Pastor Pam Olsen, the event’s organizer, opened in prayer outside the Old Capitol with these words: “Father God, I thank you for the privilege to stand here at the heart of our state government. God, crying out for America that we need you. Jesus, we need you to come and heal our land. . . . Stop this virus. Heal hearts. Heal the economy.”
Governor DeSantis explained “With faith guiding the way, we will emerge stronger than before. . . .My prayer for all Floridians is that we continue to carry an appreciation of what truly matters in life and that we gain a new understanding of our true strength. In the face of fear and crisis, we are resilient.”
Rabbi Leonid Feldman of Temple Bethel in Palm Beach shared: “Master of the Universe, as the entire world continues to combat this dreadful scourge, we are grateful to you for inspiring the heroes who are sacrificing their lives day after day and for granting wisdom to our government officials so they can make the right decisions. We ask you to help us understand that we all truly are one. Dear God, remind us that every human being was created in your image and that every person has unique value and dignity. . . .Teach us . . . to realize that what we used to call menial jobs are in fact, essential. . . .Help us dear God to see the good in people so that we will, indeed, be able to love our neighbors as we love ourselves.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
President Trump released a Proclamation for the 2020 NDP stating: “On this National Day of Prayer, Americans . . . join together and lift up our hearts, remembering the words of 1 John 5:14 that tell us when ‘we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.’” Faith and Freedom Coalition National Chairman, Dr. Ralph Reed, joined faith leaders from across the nation at the White House on Thursday for the National Day of Prayer.
THIS YEAR’S NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER – DIFFERENT FROM THE PAST
According to the National Day of Prayer.Org, over 60,000 community prayer gatherings typically occur on the first Thursday of May across America. The National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force confirmed that this powerful observance would neither “be canceled nor postponed–but will look very different from years past.” The 2020 NDP event involved “new and creative approaches, combined with unprecedented access to digital platforms . . . to mobilize millions in unified, public prayer for America . . . with the potential to become the largest prayer ‘gathering’ in U.S. history – with millions praying together, individually.”
BEFORE THE REVOLUTION
Let’s look back at how our government observed previous national days of prayer that predated the American Revolution. Before the United States was established, the tradition of praying as a nation on a predetermined date was already occurring. The Continental Congress, the legislative body which governed the U.S. from 1774-1789, made the first proclamation in 1775 designating a day for prayer.
Another proclamation made by Congress was designated for May 17, 1776 in the colonies. The proclamation declares that the colonists must “confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his [God’s] righteous displeasure, and through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness.” As colonists prepared for revolution against the British crown, Massachusetts wanted printings of the proclamation for churches to be distributed. Rather than employing the traditional “God Save The King” maxim, the printings’ closing read “God Save This People.”
A YOUNG REPUBLIC PRAYS
Subsequently, throughout Revolutionary War, the Congress continued to set at least two national days of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer,” according to the Library of Congress. As the Civil War ravaged our country, President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in an 1863 proclamation.
MODERN DAY OBSERVANCES
During President Truman’s administration, the NDP became a formalized annual tradition, established through a joint resolution of Congress in 1952. Later President Reagan’s administration fixed the first Thursday of every May as the NDP. This national observance includes yearly proclamations by our presidents which ask our Republic to pray. Since 1952, every president has signed such a yearly National Day of Prayer Proclamation. Only four presidents have issued several National Day of Prayer Proclamations within the same year: Presidents Gerald Ford, George H. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.
Join us next week as we continue our series about God’s protection over Judah during unfathomable fear and trouble. To learn more about Florida Faith and Freedom Coalition, visit our website to sign-up for our newsletters and to read previous blogs.