National Day of Prayer 2024: ‘People need a safe place to be with God’

Thursday, May 2, 2024, is the National Day of Prayer — an occasion observed typically on the first Thursday in May in the U.S.

This year is the 73rd such day of prayer.

This year’s theme is “Lift up the Word, Light up the World.”

At a time of strife and stress, many believe there is a very strong need for prayer right now.

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Fox News Digital heard from an array of faith leaders and fervent believers in a variety of locations with thoughts about the annual occasion. Here is what 11 individuals shared in their own words.

‘We can gain strength’

From Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz, actress, producer, “Mother Teresa and Me,” Zurich, Switzerland: In a world filled with crises and conflicts, many people are losing their belief that they can individually make a positive contribution to this world.

Recently, I had the privilege of portraying Mother Teresa in the humanitarian film, “Mother Teresa and Me,” a movie that urges viewers to embrace tolerance, compassion and love.

Split image of Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz out of costume and in costume as Mother Teresa

Swiss actress Jacqueline Fritschi-Cornaz played Mother Teresa in the film “Mother Teresa & Me.” The actress quoted Mother Teresa regarding “love in action.” (Fox News/”Mother Teresa & Me”)

It means a great deal to me to use her words to convey the message that we can gain strength from prayer, maintain a positive outlook and take action to impact our world for good — which Mother Teresa called “love in action.”

‘We can support and love one another’

From Jesse Bradley, pastor, Grace Community Church, Auburn, Washington: There are levels of stress, anxiety, and despair in our country that are concerning. People need a safe place to talk, pray and be with God.

There is healing when we pray and draw near to God. There is no shame in asking for prayer. It’s a wise decision. We all need prayer. No one is better than someone else.

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We are hungry for God and the peace Jesus brings. We can support and love one another through prayer. It’s a way to come together and there is a profound bond as hearts are opened and God answers prayer.

May our prayer increase — before meals, before school or work, before major events, before bedtime.

Jesse Bradley family

Pastor Jesse Bradley is pictured with his family. “We need God’s supernatural healing in our country,” he said. “God is close to the brokenhearted and His restoration is powerful.”  (Wayne Jackson)

God made it clear in 2 Chronicles 7:14 that if we humble ourselves, repent, seek God and walk humbly with Him, God will hear our prayers and there will be healing in our land. That’s the cry of our hearts.

We need God’s supernatural healing in our country. God is close to the brokenhearted and His restoration is powerful.

‘We can reach out’

From Jeff King, president, persecution.org, Washington, D.C.: Our prayers tend to center around our greatest needs and anxieties. But the most powerful and life-changing prayer I learned is from the prisons of the persecuted.

It comes at the time of our greatest suffering when all of our being cries out for escape and the cessation of our pain. In our greatest testing, we must ask if our suffering is an assignment from heaven.

“Our suffering is a door to transformation.”

If so, then we must acknowledge and accept the profound wisdom of the Father’s path for us.

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Our challenge is to reach out and close the door to our prison cell while we remain inside. In that moment, we will discover that our suffering is not a destination but a door to transformation.”

‘We can connect heart-to-heart with God’

From Laura Gallier, author, speaker, Houston, Texas: When we approach prayer as an exercise in positive thought, an expression of moral uprightness, a dutiful chore or an experiment that (fingers crossed) just might work — sadly, we miss the point.

Biblically speaking, prayer is an astounding invitation from the God of the universe to connect heart-to-heart with Him — the single most relationally intimate being that ever was or will be.

cross and bible split with Laura Gallier

Author Laura Gallier said prayer can “affect change throughout a nation.” (iStock/Laura Gallier)

Our life’s purpose and prayer are one and the same: It is to authentically and passionately love God back.

It only takes a handful of people approaching prayer that way to affect change throughout a nation.

‘We need not despair’

From Rabbi Pinchas Taylor, Plantation, Florida: At a time when trust in government leaders is at an all-time low, we need not despair.

We remember that ultimately, God is the Hand behind the scenes that guides the nation to our destiny: “In God We Trust.”

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This period of time in our lives and in our nation is a lot less stressful when we realize that everything is a lead-up to the ultimate redemption.

“God is the Hand behind the scenes.”

‘We know prayer is essential’

From Mark Hancock, CEO, Trail Life USA, Greenville, South Carolina: Prayer is essential to the success and survival of anything good.

In these uncertain times, we are committed to lifting up the Word to light up the world.

‘We pray for our nation’

From James Spencer, president, D.L. Moody Center, Northfield, Massachusetts: Prayer reminds us that we are not ultimately dependent on our political, cultural or economic well-being — but on the Triune God.

In prayer, we acknowledge that we cannot fix our broken world through human efforts.

man headshot two pictures

James Spencer of the D. L. Moody Center said, “We are not ultimately dependent on our political, cultural or economic well-being.” (Loch and Key Photography)

We can only hope to manage the disorder that is the result of denying God and refusing to trust his wisdom.

As Christians pray for our nation, we display our commitment to live under the authority of Jesus Christ.

‘We can find peace’

From Shane Williamson, president & CEO, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Kansas City, Missouri: We can go to God in prayer for anything — for comfort, wisdom, protection and direction, for example.

When we do, we can find a peace that passes all understanding as we wait on Him to respond.

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On this National Day of Prayer for our nation, leaders, families and ministries, we can unify under the name of Jesus. We can trust that He will move in our hearts and in our lives to see His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

There’s nothing more powerful than prayer because of its ability to move the hand of God.

We can ‘be encouraged’

From Chris Worthington, Christian filmmaker, founder, Every Nation Will Bow, Orlando, Florida: Deception is running wild in America; darkness has overtaken millions.

While many don’t believe that prayer works, the truth is that prayer is like turning a light on in a dark room.

prayer hands split with chris worthington

Said Chris Worthington, Christian filmmaker, “God is listening and He hears every word. Whether you believe it or not — He is closer than you know.” (iStock/Every Nation Will Bow)

As the Bible says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

The devil has convinced millions that even if they were to pray, that prayer wouldn’t do anything. But here’s what Jesus said regarding prayer: “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it]” (Mark 11:24).

Be encouraged. God is listening and He hears every word. Whether you believe it or not, He is closer than you know.

‘We join with our fellow citizens’

From Patti Garibay, executive director, American Heritage Girls, Cincinnati, Ohio: Across the nation, American Heritage Girls join with our fellow citizens in lifting our nation in prayer.

We join fellow believers who seek to bring light to the church, family, education, business, military, government and media.

Girls teens american heritage

Shown here, a group of American Heritage Girls. Said founder and executive director of the group, Patti Garibay, “It is far better to light a candle than simply curse the darkness. A nation in prayer is a nation that is blessed.” (American Heritage Girls)

May we take a collective pause and lift our nation in prayer, lighting candles of hope and love across our nation and its people — for it is far better to light a candle than simply curse the darkness.

A nation in prayer is a nation that is blessed.

‘We need forgiveness’

From Judge Phil Ginn, president, Southern Evangelical Seminary, Charlotte, North Carolina: Certainly, throughout the history of the American people, we have faced a myriad of crises. We have arguably, however, never experienced a time like the present, when we’re divided internally into so many volatile and factious antithetical groupings.

 

The menacing imminence of disintegration as a nation is much closer internally in America than any threat from an external aggressor.

So, on this National Day of Prayer, perhaps it would behoove us as people of faith to enter into this season of petition as King David did in Psalm 51, “with a broken and contrite spirit.”

woman in prayer

“It’s only in that humility and a sense of seeking the forgiveness of Almighty God, which we so desperately need as a nation, that we will achieve true restoration as a people.”  (AP Photo/Oxford Eagle, Bruce Newman)

It’s only in that humility and a sense of seeking the forgiveness of Almighty God, which we so desperately need as a nation, that we will achieve true restoration as a people.

 

At the very least, it is a good place to start as we come into the presence of God in the name of Christ Jesus and in the power of His Holy Spirit.

Come to think of it, it is our only option.