Ed Stetzer & Ronnie Floyd on the National Day of Prayer

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Ed Stetzer: Tomorrow, May 2, is the National Day of Prayer—a day anticipated by many across this country. Each year we talk about it on The Exchange because I believe it’s important that all Christians take part in it on some level. Below I talk with Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

Ed: A quick glance at the news tells us America is still struggling with division and polarization. From your perspective, what is the spiritual state of America?
Ronnie: I was recently reading a Gallup poll on the emotional state of America. Honestly, I wasn’t surprised the pollsters found that Americans are among the most stressed people in the world or that nearly half of the U.S. population — 45 percent — feel burdened by worry. I definitely wasn’t surprised to learn 1 in 5 Americans experienced a lot of anger last year. But I was surprised by one detail in the poll that in itself speaks volumes: despite an improving economy, Americans are more stressed, more worried and angrier than in years past.
The report says, “The disconnect between a strong economy and Americans’ increasing negative emotions illustrates how GDP and other hard economic data only tell part of the story. In fact, the levels of negative emotions in the past several years are even higher than during the U.S. recession years.”
What this tells us is that happiness and personal fulfillment are not necessarily dependent on our circumstances. Being a pastor, this makes perfect sense to me. I’ve seen it in people’s lives, and I see it in America as a whole. I believe America’s political and social problems — all the division, hostility and polarization we see every day — are actually problems of the human heart, and fixing them requires a spiritual solution. If we truly want unity and peace in America, we must return to God and remember that our highest calling is to love him and one another.
Ed: Some people may argue that America is a secular nation and that observing a National Day of Prayer actually violates the concept of church and state separation. What is your answer to that argument?
Ronnie: Although many people would make us believe America is a secular nation that wants nothing to do with religion, the truth is faith has always been a part of our story, and prayer, specifically, is an undeniable part of our DNA as a people.
In fact, if you look at every great moment in American history — whether it’s the pilgrims kneeling at Plymouth Rock after reaching the New World, Rev. Jacob Duché’s prayer at the First Continental Congress as state delegates decided whether to declare independence from Great Britain or President Abraham Lincoln’s declaration for a day of prayer and fasting during the height of the Civil War — prayer always has been present in the room.
Our forefathers understood that America has prospered not necessarily because of how great we are as a people but because of how great God is and how much he has blessed us. This is why they repeatedly called for days of fasting and prayer for America. As a people, we are forgetful and we need to remember God’s providence and sovereignty.
The National Day of Prayer, first created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress and then designated as the first Thursday of May in 1988, follows in this great American tradition. It’s a day set aside for us to pray for our nation, our leaders and our communities and recognize God’s hand over our lives.
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Source: Christianity Today
Source: Black Christian News