Church of God Congregations Observe National Day of Prayer
By Carl Stagner
Today’s a special day for numerous Church of God pastors, chaplains, lay leaders, and those who would rightly be described as “prayer warriors.” But it’s a day for all believers, too. On the first Thursday of May, followers of Christ in the United States participate in what’s known as the National Day of Prayer. Throughout the year, we seek the Lord’s face continually as we encourage others to do so. But on this special day, we set aside time to pray specifically for the needs of the nation and the world beyond. In view of recent tragedies, ongoing conflicts, and prevalent manifestations of evil, Christians from coast to coast—including many in the Church of God—are humbly reminded today, especially, of our desperate need for God.
Of the perennial need for prayer, Ryan Chapman, associate director for US and Canada Strategy, has said, “Our culture is being assaulted in so many ways. A tradition for a number of years for believers is to have a focused prayer effort for our nation in early May.” He has pointed out that the National Day of Prayer Task Force has faithfully sought to “mobilize prayer in America and to encourage personal repentance and righteousness in the culture.”
Each year Church of God people participate in public prayer gatherings in ecclesiastical, educational, and civic settings. While special occasions for focused and collective prayer matter greatly, so do the ongoing, day-in-and-day-out conversations with the One who hears and responds to our prayers. Amid crises and chaos spanning the globe, the Church of God is a movement on its knees. In 2023, numerous Church of God pastors and churches once again published calls to prayer and information about local prayer gatherings on social media.
In Albuquerque, New Mexico, Pastor Richard Mansfield urged his congregation to “pack the plaza” at the city’s Civic Plaza for their local National Day of Prayer rally. The influential congregation in the state’s largest city has a rich history of congregational and ecumenical prayer efforts. Their involvement in 2023, interceding for the needs of the community, state, and nation, is certainly no different.
First Church of God in Ira, Texas, handled things in a primarily online fashion. All day long, they’re publishing areas of focus for which the congregation is encouraged to pray. The instructions read, “We are asking you to pray for each need when you receive the post or at the end of the day. Remember! Prayer is our power source, and our prayers can change lives and situations. Let us amaze God with our faithful prayers!”
New Life Church of God in Lewisburg, Tennessee, helped promote the local prayer gathering sponsored by their county’s ministerial association—a common thread across the country. Like many locales, the courthouse square was determined to be a most suitable location—and like many locales, noon was selected as the best time for people to take a lunch break and spend it in prayer, together, spanning the denominational spectrum, crying out as one to the Lord who heals and restores.
Solid Rock Community Church in Kissimmee, Florida, inspired their congregation with the lyrics of the classic hymn, “Jesus Paid it All.” Commentary and instruction followed: “Praise the Lord for allowing us to see a new day. Let’s spend some time with the Lord in prayer. Praise, Pray, give thanks, repeat! God’s got us. Thank you, Jesus!”
At 10:30 in the morning, Church of God Ministries staff also came together on the fourth day of May for a special prayer meeting. The focused time of intercession was in addition to the staff’s daily morning pleas to the Lord for mercy, direction, healing, and power for pastors, leaders, and the Movement as a whole.
Many Church of God congregations, whether or not they’re actively participating in a local community event, are soliciting prayer requests from their online communities—or by phone or text. Teays Valley Church of God in Scott Depot, West Virginia, is encouraging participation locally and virtually in local and national prayer rallies, but also simply asked the question online today, “How can we pray for you?” What a beautiful sentiment!
Some of our Church of God sisters and brothers service as chaplains in various settings; because of their God-assigned positions, they’ve been selected to chair local ecumenical prayer rallies. Way to represent Jesus and the Movement, each one!
Pastor Jessica Hall of Beulah Church of God in Eubank, Kentucky, recently appointed successor to Gerald Rudd as the new chair of Pastors’ Fellowship for the Church of God, made an astute observation about prayer last year. She wrote, “Our prayers can make a difference in our nation, but it has to happen on personal level. When we saturate ourselves in prayer it changes the fabric of our lives, the fabric of our churches, and then pours out to change the fabric of the communities we live in and serve in.” How fitting for this year, too.
For an encouraging story about how one Oklahoma Church of God congregation is currently emphasizing prayer in their local setting, read “Oklahoma Church Establishes ‘War Room.’”