Prayer Targets: Dr. Bob Bakke; The National Day of Prayer
May 02, 2018
Let Your hand be upon the man of Your right hand, upon the son of man whom You made strong for Yourself. Then we will not turn back from You; revive us, and we will call upon Your name. Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; cause Your face to shine, And we shall be saved! Ps 80:17-19
Dear Praying Friends,
Dr. Bob Bakke is the senior pastor of Hillside Church in Bloomington, Minnesota. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Bob served churches in Connecticut and New Jersey and for many years was an executive director for the Evangelical Free Church of America, promoting prayer and spiritual awakening. An author and T.V. and radio producer, his broadcasts have brought millions together for prayer. The following is from Bob’s article, American Pentecost:
Hopeless? Is our nation’s current situation beyond fixing? Hardly. We’ve been here before.
Among the first and greatest national experiences of the United States was a massive spiritual awakening in the face of overwhelming problems. Consider these dire challenges that faced our nation preceding perhaps the greatest movement of God in our nation’s history.
Economic Disaster and Plagues - The tragic after-effects of eight years of the War of Independence with England were profound. The 1790s were years of grave national doubts. We faced the enormous pressures of two superpowers on our borders (France and England) and the constant threat of war.
We teetered on the edge of national bankruptcy, exacerbated by a banking crisis and a real estate speculation bubble that burst. Without the English navy, the U.S. had terrible trouble with pirates interrupting our trade. Twenty percent of our annual national budget went to pay off Muslim pirates in North Africa, and the French and English were taking our ships in the North Atlantic.
Plagues were killing thousands of our citizens. The Capitol was moved from Philadelphia to Trenton, NJ, each spring to escape the banks of the Delaware River, thought to be the source of illness there. The nation also teetered on the verge of famine because of diseases in crops.
Political Unrest and Empty Churches - The editorial pages and cartoons were among the most vicious in American history. Political rancor was fed by newspapers essentially owned by the political parties—rancor highlighted by a duel between two prominent political figures, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. The famous duel left Hamilton dead.
The nastiest presidential election in U.S. history between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson was thought by many to be a political struggle for the soul and future of America. Many Christians were convinced that Jefferson was the antichrist.
An anti-Christian FrenchEnlightenment was sweeping through the intelligentsia (affecting publishing, schools, and government). The “Reign of Terror” caused fear of French terror cells. There was political unrest and riots in our cities. Federal troops were called on to quell anarchy.
Universalism swept away established churches, and most churches were empty. Pastors wrote that these were the worst times they could ever have imagined. Others wrote of “coarse sensuality” and intense partisanship in the land. Irreligion was rampant on college campuses. On some campuses, Bibles were publicly burned. At major schools only a handful of students confessed Christ.
A Spiritual Explosion - What happened? The pastors began a movement of prayer. It was small at first, but it grew. After years of seeking God, in 1801 a spiritual explosion took place that swept our nation like a wildfire. Vanderbilt University historian Paul Conkin calls it “America’s Pentecost.” Mark Noll, a historian specializing in the history of Christianity in the U.S., insists it was our nation’s most important religious moment that changed the course of history.
Hundreds of denominations were born and thousands of churches were founded. Modern missions exploded on the scene, as well as tract and Bible societies. Abolition was launched. Hospitals, schools, and colleges were founded. The awakening infiltrated every area of life and it spun out for nearly 50 years. The impact on our nation and around the world was astounding.
In the midst of similar problems today, we pray with hope and confidence. We have seen the glory of Christ before. (Dr. Robert Bakke, “America’s Pentecost,” Prayer Connect magazine, Issue #1, “Can Prayer Save America?”)
The National Day of Prayer (NDP) is Tomorrow, Thursday, May 3rd, 2018 – The theme of this year’s NDP is Unity. The church must unite in prayer for unity among the American people. With men it is impossible, but with God, all things are possible! (Mk 10:27)
Enacted by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Truman in 1952, the annual National Day of Prayer is now a part of the law of the land in recognition of God’s vital role in establishing and sustaining America.
The first settlers prayed when they set foot on our shores, thanking God for and dedicating it to him. Colonial American governors and mayors issued prayer day proclamations from the early 17th century. During its first days in 1774, the First Continental Congress held an extended prayer meeting with the delegates on their knees, seeking God’s grace and guidance in their deliberations and for his help in dealing with many challenges Americans faced as a people with the specter of war looming on the horizon. In June of 1775, the Second Continental Congress issued an authoritative proclamation to the people of all the colonies, charging them to refrain from labor to observe a day of “humiliation, prayer and fasting” that July. The first shots of the War for Independence had been fired just weeks earlier and war with the most powerful army in the world was underway. One year later, the same Congress signed the Declaration of Independence.
While not all Americans of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras were born-again believers, they were far more biblically literate than believers today, and they held, by and large, to a biblical world view. They believed God was sovereign and that he would bless or curse our nation based upon our obedience or disobedience to his commandments (Dt 28: all). Many if not most feared God. They believed that if Americans honored God, God would honor America (1 Sam 2:30).
Stirred by the Lord in the mid-1980s, Mrs. Vonette Bright (cofounder of Campus Crusade for Christ, with her husband, Dr. Bill Bright) together with the National Prayer Committee set about to lobby Congress to permanentize the National Day of Prayer on a specific day each year so that believers could plan for and grow the observance. In 1988, Congress voted to designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. President Reagan signed the measure into law. Up until then, the annual NDP proclamation had no fixed date, so believers and leaders had great difficulty planning and promoting the observance. The new, fixed day each year changed all that. The National Prayer Committee launched the National Day of Prayer Task Force, which has labored year-round ever since to organize and promote the National Day of Prayer. Growing each year, there are now up to 50,000 or more observances around the country. Presidents and governors of the states make annual proclamations recognizing the day. Thus began a fresh effort to preserve this powerful component of our amazing American spiritual heritage: civil officials joining with spiritual leaders across our nation to call the American people to seek the Lord in united prayer on behalf of our nation.
The practice of such days of prayer goes all the way back to the kings and leaders of ancient Israel, who, at the behest of God, often through his prophets, called for days of repentance and solemn assembly. From the beginnings of America, perhaps thousands of prayer proclamations, following the biblical practice, have been made by civil authorities, sometimes in the aftermath of disasters and war. The coming together of God’s people for such public prayer has arguably contributed to the healing, survival, and success of America. God answers the humble pleas of his people (Ps 50:15). Such times of public prayer have helped us to prevail in war, see the end of devastating droughts and depressions, survive hurricanes, storms, fires, and floods, and other natural and unnatural disasters of many kinds. God has often heard and answered our corporate prayers.
Benjamin Franklin, in his famous appeal to the delegates of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, when they could not find unity, spoke of the effect of their prayers during the War for Independence and urged them to return to daily prayer before they proceeded to business. While they adjourned without action on Franklin’s appeal due to a lack of funds, the delegates observed July 4th at church. The Massachusetts Centinel on August 15, 1787 reports: “On the 4th ult. the anniversary of American Independence was celebrated at Philadelphia, in the Reformed Calvinist Church, by the Pennsylvania Society of Cincinnati, in presence of the Federal Convention.” Rev. William Rogers, a former Baptist pastor and military chaplain, opened the observance with a lengthy prayer, asking God to “favour them from day to day with thy immediate presence; be thou their wisdom and their strength! Enable them to devise such measures as may prove happily instrumental for healing all divisions, and promoting the good of the great WHOLE.” Afterward, the delegates found the unity they sought and our matchless Constitution was birthed.
Yet this was not a single instance. Our history is replete with example after example (visit The Founding Fathers on Prayer and The Proclamations Library – follow the links and view scores of proclamations). Even a casual reader can tell by the language and spirit of the numerous prayer proclamations that the writers were believers who were addressing God-fearing Americans. We must rebuild the broken-down walls of this heritage in our day.
America’s only hope is in God-sent revival and awakening. History records that extraordinary prayer by individuals and groups, small and large, preceded previous revivals and awakenings. Many in the growing prayer movement, of which the National Day of Prayer is a part, believe we may be on the verge of the greatest Awakening our nation has ever known. And the leaders and supporters of the National Day of Prayer effort are determined not to rest until every city, town, and county in America has at least one public observance of the National Day of Prayer every year.
Are you observing the National Day of Prayer tomorrow? If not, don’t hesitate. Find one in your area. If there is not one, call a few praying friends and have your own observance. Even if just a few of you gather together, Jesus said he will be in your midst (Mt 18:20). If you do, please remember to post your gathering on the National Day of Prayer website so that your observance can be counted and prayed over. The goal of the National Day of Prayer is the healing of America and the glory of God. Seek God with us tomorrow and pray with us for Unity! (Visit HERE for NDP promotional tools. Visit HERE to find an observance in your area, or to post your own observance.)
- Father, please pour out your Spirit upon the hundreds of thousands of people in tens of thousands of prayer meetings across our land tomorrow. Hear our prayers! Make each person praying an instrument for repentance, healing, and unity in America. Use the National Day of Prayer movement as a catalyst for more dedication to prayer in our churches, our homes, and in the public square, such as pleases you. Lord, be glorified across our nation! (Joel 2:12-18; 2 Chr 7:14; Acts 3:19; Eph 4:3; 1 Tim 2:8)
Finally, see FRC’s latest Social Conservative Review for a compendium of current public policy issues that need and deserve your prayers.
As always, thank you for praying with us and may God bless you in whatever role you may play in the National Day of Prayer!