Tens of thousands of Americans next month will be on their knees, gathering in large and small groups to pray for our country — specifically, for the unity of its citizenry.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, is calling on all Americans to join him for the 2018 National Day of Prayer on May 3.
Floyd will lead the event in Statuary Hall at the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C., and will include an interview with Pastor Frank Pomeroy and his wife, Sherri Pomery. The Pomeroys lost their daughter and 26 members of their congregation in the shooting at their church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last November.
This year’s theme is “Pray for America — UNITY.” The verse it’s based on is from Ephesians 4:3: “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
Floyd is senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas and southwest Missouri, which serves members on five campuses. He’s also the author of more than 20 books on prayer and faith. LifeZette talked by phone with the author and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention this week about the upcoming 30th anniversary of the National Day of Prayer.
“Spiritual awakenings in the past have helped shape America,” he said. “It is our hope and our prayer that in our generation –– at some point –– we’re going to see another great spiritual awakening. We’re praying God would bring His church together and that God would bring a mighty spiritual revival to the church.”
To achieve this, Floyd believes we must “agree clearly, unite visibly, and pray extraordinarily for the next great awakening in America.”
Floyd, married for over 40 years and the father of two sons, believes the National Day of Prayer — with a projected 40,000 people due to take part in various gatherings — can serve as a catalyst for this awakening. He expressed deep concerns about the recent uptick of divisiveness in the country and noted that when the unity theme for this year’s event was announced, volunteers, workers, leaders, and board members all rallied behind it immediately.
Floyd said he’s noticed marked disunity and polarization, over the past five years particularly. “More than I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s gone further and further and further” — since last fall, he said.
He attributes this to a number of things. Two reasons, he said, are the selfishness –– and the failure –– of people to understand the power and joy of working together. A third and perhaps even more telling reason is a “lack of appreciation for the United States of America.” He said this lack of patriotism is shown in a number of ways — and he does not intend to target any one group as responsible for it.
Nonetheless, the general decline in Americans’ sense of patriotism greatly concerns the faith leader.
“We see it every day,” he said. “It’s everywhere. And I don’t think any of that’s God’s will. I don’t think it’s best for America. The love of country, the honoring of people, is what I’m most concerned about.”
He noted that our speech has become increasingly “vitriolic, critical, cynical, and skeptical,” and that this disrespectful, dishonoring speech stands in the way of a country that is “struggling to come together.”
“The answer is ultimately Christ … Biblically speaking, unity is supernatural. Unity is only accomplished by God.”
Floyd hopes the National Day of Prayer will encourage participants to consider what steps they can take to help heal divisions within the church family.
He hopes the faithful will take a simple approach to resolving divisiveness by focusing on major points of agreement. For Christians, those points would include the infallibility of Scripture, Christ’s role as the single path to heaven, and the importance of bringing the Gospel to the unsaved.
This year’s unity theme also includes calls for unity within families, among ethnicities, and across workplaces, communities, and cities.
A united country is a safer country. Floyd said the security of our schools, our churches, and our public venues represent a worthy goal that all can strive to achieve.
“I’m thankful for what [these legislators] are doing. We really need this in our country.”
He encouraged the faithful to continue “praying that God will protect the children … and that the leaders in our country can come together over what is best in how to protect our children and how to secure our schools.” Floyd extended his call for prayers of security to all public venues, including churches.
Though the Senate and House are out of session on the National Day of Prayer, Floyd expects some legislators to be in attendance, and he believes the White House will likely hold an event or acknowledge the National Day of Prayer in some way.
One legislator who will definitely be in attendance is Rep. Mark Walker (R-N.C.), who will be giving a short “prompting to prayer” for America. Floyd said Walker will also be discussing why we should be praying for our nation.
Many Americans believe that divisive, vitriolic speech is damaging to the country, said Floyd. “Ultimately, the message I want [legislators] to hear is that they need to be always leading toward unity.”
“Do everything you can to advance unity,” he added directing his thoughts toward our legislators. “We need leadership in our country that really stand up tall in that. Actually, many of them are. It’s just that we don’t ever hear about those kind [of legislators]. And I’m thankful for what they’re doing. We really need this in our country.”
Floyd and his team have assembled an array of resources for people who are leading or would like to lead a local group on the National Day of Prayer. The resources are available on the National Day of Prayer’s website, where those who wish to participate can also search for nearby events.
For those who cannot attend an event in person, the event will be streamed live on the event’s website, and on Daystar Television Network.
The national observance in in Washington, D.C., begins at 7:30 p.m. Pastor Floyd encourages participants to share their stories about the National Day of Prayer on social media under the hashtag #Pray4Unity.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to LifeZette.