"A divided church cannot call a divided nation to unity," National Day of Prayer President and former SBC President Ronnie Floyd told those gathered for prayer in the U.S. Capitol on May 3. National Day of Prayer photo
Floyd: Prayer a 'gift that the Lord has given us'
WASHINGTON – Prayer is a “gift that the Lord has given us,” said Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer, at the National Religious Broadcasters’
First Amendment Lunch in Washington May 3.
“Today, all over this country, already thousands have gathered in all kinds of ways, in all kinds of places, on the National Day of Prayer,” said Floyd, who is also senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“What an opportunity it is that on this day we’re able to gather in this great city, forwarding the importance of prayer in America,” he said.
The theme for the 2018 National Day of Prayer was “Unity,” Floyd said, emphasizing its importance in America and how Ephesians 4:3 – the verse upon which the theme was based – calls on believers to make “every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
“Unity is supernatural and only happens through the power of God,” Floyd said. “And because we believe in the power of prayer that beseeches the heart of a merciful God who is sovereign over all affairs, I’m thankful today that when I pray, I have the confidence that God is able.”
Floyd concluded his remarks by reminding Christian leaders that “a divided church cannot call a divided nation to unity.”
“We as the church of Jesus Christ need to model what true Christian unity is just as Jesus prayed for us to experience that together in John 17,” Floyd said before leading the audience in a time of prayer.
Later that evening, Floyd led in a National Day of Prayer observance in the U.S. Capitol. During the two-hour observance, Floyd directed those gathered into times of prayer, first for a full commitment to unity. He invited the audience to gather in groups of four to six people to pray at intervals, sometimes requesting they kneel on the floor if possible.
Throughout the hall, participants offered prayers of repentance at one juncture and requests for God’s mercy and forgiveness of sin at another. Individuals led in prayers for the three branches of the federal government, as well as the U.S. military. Prayers were also offered by Native American, Hispanic, Anglo, African American and Asian leaders in the church.
H.B. Charles Jr. – president of the 2018 SBC Pastors’ Conference and pastor-teacher of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. – told the audience dependence on God is “the essential key to believing prayer.”
“Prayer will not work without a heart of dependence upon God,” he said in remarks based on the story of King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26. “Prayer is our advertisement of our dependence upon God. As we confess our weakness, we draw closer to God.
“When we acknowledge our weakness, our neediness and our helplessness without God, it not only draws us closer to God,” Charles said. “It also draws us closer to one another.”
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said the call to unity “requires repentance, humility.”
“Now is the time to bring an end to abortion, racism, intolerance, hatred and bigotry,” Rodriguez said.
“And now is the time to remember that while we’re waiting for Jesus to come down, Jesus is waiting for His church to stand up.”
The name of Jesus Christ “unites us,” Rodriguez told participants. “[W]e need that name to be lovingly lifted up and proclaimed. That name, believe it or not, can save this nation.
“[L]et us repent; let us humble ourselves.”
Donna Gaines, a women’s ministry leader and wife of SBC President Steve
Gaines, offered a prayer of repentance.
“Father, we are ashamed and embarrassed to lift our faces to You our God for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown to the heavens,” she prayed. “We desperately need You.”