Throwback Thursday: National Day of Prayer?

Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. The post below was originally published back on April 15, 2016, but has been revised to reflect the upcoming 2021 National Day of Prayer.


The National Day of Prayer is coming up next week on Thursday, May 6th. Back in 1952, during the Korean War and Red Scare and in response to a groundswell of support sparked by a young Billy Graham, President Harry Truman signed into law the bill which mandated that an annual day of prayer be observed throughout the nation. The observance day was later fixed as the first Thursday in May. On this day, people of all religious faiths in the United States are called upon to pray for the nation and its leaders. Many born-again followers of Jesus Christ will join in “prayer” with Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, New Agers, and followers of various aberrant “christian” denominations and sects including Roman Catholicism and Mormonism.

Many evangelical Christians see participation in the National Day of Prayer as a good thing. After all, doesn’t God’s Word instruct us to pray for the authorities over us, “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)? But the National Day of Prayer also has some critics within evangelicalism, including myself.

The National Day of Prayer is an event that promotes American civil religion (see here), a conflation of religion and American patriotism. Christians should never join with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors. God’s Word is explicitly clear on this:

“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.'” – 2 Corinthians 6:14-17

“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.” – Ephesians 5:11

“…holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” – 2 Timothy 3:5

Jesus proclaimed that He is the ONLY way to salvation. That’s definitely not a popular message in our post-modern era of cooperation, pluralism, tolerance, inclusiveness, and relativism. But Christians should NOT join with religious unbelievers as they pray to their false deities. That is cooperation with idolatry. Yes, we Christians must pray for our country’s leaders so that the Gospel can continue to be preached unhindered throughout this land, but we cannot join with religious unbelievers in this ministry.

Some Christian supporters of the National Day of Prayer argue that the event can be used as an evangelism tool, however, compromise works both ways. Cooperation and compromise with unbelief always leads to betrayal of the Gospel. The Old Testament is largely a record of the disastrous consequences of God’s people cooperating with idolatry.

In closing, I would ask born-again believers who regularly read God’s Word to try to imagine the Lord, Jesus Christ, or even the Apostle Paul, joining with the pagan religionists of 1st-century Palestine, Mesopotamia, and Asia Minor in ecumenical prayer. The notion is beyond preposterous and yet many followers of Christ will enthusiastically join with religious unbelievers in the National Day of Prayer. For many evangelicals, shared national citizenship and religious-tinged, patriotic fervor take precedence over fidelity to the Gospel. The pastor of the Southern Baptist church we previously attended encouraged participation in the National Day of Prayer, which was one of several warning signs that we were worshiping at the wrong place. This is pretty cut and dry, folks. The fact that the National Day of Prayer is so popular with American evangelicals is another example of the lack of discernment when it comes to ecumenism and “interreligious” cooperation.

“The Church of Christ is continually represented under the figure of an army; yet its Captain is the Prince of Peace; its object is the establishment of peace, and its soldiers are men of a peaceful disposition. The spirit of war is at the extremely opposite point to the spirit of the gospel. Yet nevertheless, the church on earth has, and until the second advent must be, the church militant, the church armed, the church warring, the church conquering. And how is this? It is the very order of things that so it must be. Truth could not be truth in this world if it were not a warring thing, and we should at once suspect that it were not true if error were friends with it. The spotless purity of truth must always be at war with the blackness of heresy and lies.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

38 thoughts on “Throwback Thursday: National Day of Prayer?

  1. Amen, well said, Tom. During my newspaper days, I argued with a fellow Christian about this. She said it was a good way to reach Muslims. I told her it was not, because we’re telling them that who they pray to is every bit as legitimate as to Whom we pray.

    She couldn’t be convinced.

    Besides, Christians don’t need a national day of prayer, we should be praying every day.

    Liked by 5 people

      1. Hey Tom and David, I agree that Christians and other religions should not mix in prayer (Leymah Gbowee’s Pray the Devil Back to Hell would be an interesting review from y’all). I also agree that we do not need one specific day to pray for the nation. If believers meet with other believers (which I know some do) to pray for the USA and the nations I see nothing wrong with that. Should believers even individually pray for the nation and its leaders at all on May 6, 2021?

        As an aside: I know y’all are eager for the persecution that is coming and that when a person warns others about these agendas that makes that person some kind of nationalist conflating Christianity with God’s Kingdom. However, I freely admit that I do and will continue to pray for God to protect my family, friends and their small children from the wicked agendas that are going to be imposed on them. Y’all are more than welcome to unfollow my blog.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Nope, I didn’t consider unfollowing your blog after reading your comments. I realized when I originally published this post and when I republished it today that some would be offended by it. I know the Christian nationalist/civil religion paradigm is still very popular among evangelicals living in this country. We can disagree and that’s okay although I still stand by all I wrote.


  2. I had never heard of this, but then again, I live under a rock.

    Thanks for sharing! As an ex-new ager, I can say that most new agers either don’t care about this, or haven’t heard of this. They are for the most part very anti-anything-that-resembles Jesus, from what I have experienced.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. When I was in high school our Christian club would pray near the flagpole during National day of prayer. Never had any other gathering with national day of prayer since then and of course I do not join in with ecumenical worship with non-Christians. I think this last year I prayed for the spiritual state of our country more than any other year in my 22 years as a Christian and that I think is a Christian duty. This country needs the Gospel.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Yup, Americans surely need the genuine Gospel, not the watered-down, wide-is-the-way version that’s propagated via ecumenism and American civil religion.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Crissy. A National Day of Prayer presumes upon many false and anti-Biblical assumptions. If everyone or even the vast majority of United States citizens were born-again Christians that would be one thing, but that’s extremely far from the case. Even then, history has proven thousands of times that combining church and state is never a good idea. What happens at these “national days of prayer” is ecumenical-spiritual adultery.

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Important truths brother, so punctuated by Spurgeon’s statement. This cannot be overstated. Our spiritual strength lies in separation from the world. God commands us, “Come out from among them and be separate” is a loving call to unify with our Father.
    National Prayer does sound ‘good’ but as a broad wave of ecumenicalism, it can only dilute any true faith and worse, validate false religion by standing in unison.
    You nailed it Tom, would Jesus do such a thing? The Apostle Paul?
    Press on brother.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for the good comments, Lisa Beth. No, we could not possibly imagine Jesus Christ or the apostle Paul joining with pagan religionists in a state appointed day of prayer.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Excellent post! I fully agree Tom. This is Christianity 101… we don’t pray with unbelievers. We shouldn’t even have to write about this, but such are the times that we live in that we must write about it.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks, Cathy! Absolutely. This should be a non-issue. It figures that Billy Graham was the instigator behind the ND of P. He took evangelicals down several wrong paths.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Wow that Lincoln story is very fascinating; can’t wait for the review. My day went well; took my dad to get the Covid vaccine and got it too. This last week I’ve been quite fatigued

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I got my second shot three weeks ago. Startling to see what’s going on in India with C-19 out of control. Hope you have a good prep day and a good rest day this upcoming Monday!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I agree with your post and what others have commented. The National Day of prayer was done in an effort of the US Government to promote religion in general and for a political agenda on top of that. I don’t need to dedicate one day out of the year to pray for my country. I don’t promote the National Day of Prayer on my social media. Sadly as was mentioned most churches in the USA promote the National Day of Prayer each year and encourage everyone to pray on THAT DAY. The US Government during the Early Decades of the Cold War used the American Civic Religion mostly to figuratively stick their tongue at the Communists, but most American Politicians in the 1950s and 1960s were not practicing genuine Christianity, they were putting on religious labels and paying lip service to it. Deism was just good enough in their minds and an occasional visit to church.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This Saturday as I was driving to an IHOP for breakfast I saw a large group of Catholics with a Banner encouraging people to join them at the same place on National Day of Prayer to pray for America. One of them had a large American Flag with them. Their banner also had the word Rosary on it alongside praying for America. That was weird to see and it looked ridiculous. It’s also not that common to see something like that where I live in Torrance, California.

    Liked by 1 person

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