". . . and having done all . . . stand firm." Eph. 6:13


‘Darkness Doesn’t Stand a Chance’: A Great Multitude Takes Part in 2024 National Day of Prayer

May 3, 2024

Millions of Americans gathered nationwide to observe the National Day of Prayer on Thursday and to repent for timidly failing “to dispel the darkness and bring light throughout” every cultural institution of the United States.

Tens of thousands of events took place nationwide to mark the 73rd annual National Day of Prayer (NDP), as Christians of every background folded their hands, closed their eyes, and raised their voices to Heaven in unison. Celebrations were capped off by a 90-minute-long official rally led by National Day of Prayer Task Force President Kathy Branzell and Pastor A.R. Bernard in Washington, D.C. The speakers focused their prayers and intercessions on this year’s theme, “Lift Up the Word — Light Up the World,” taken from II Samuel 22:29, which reads: “You are my lamp, O Lord; The Lord shall enlighten my darkness.”

Throughout the year, the NDP calls on Christians to pray for seven areas of influence in American society: government, military, media, business, education, church, and family. Each group felt the power of intercession at the D.C. gathering.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins prayed for the family. After asking God to “forgive us for departing from Your design and rejecting the truth” proclaimed by Jesus in Matthew 19, he noted that God “at the beginning made them male and female … and the two shall become one flesh” that ought not be separated. “Father, this morning, I pray that we may return to Your divine plan, where the home is the cradle of virtue, love, and respect, as children would once again be seen as a heritage from You, the fruit of the womb.” Perkins’s words came days after the Biden administration announced the lowest birthrate in U.S. history. Once children are born, godly parents must teach the scriptures “diligently to our children, and may we talk of them when we sit in our houses, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise up.” Instilling biblical morality in children assures “the blessing of God would be upon subsequent generations,” said Perkins, praying in Jesus’s Name.

Senator James Lankford (R-Okla.) also highlighted the Bible’s pivotal place in our personal, and national, spiritual formation. Old Testament pilgrims coming to Jerusalem would sing the Psalms of Ascent (120-134), he said, including the verse, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, Who made Heaven and Earth” (Psalm 121:1-2). Senator Lankford previously encouraged Christians “to pray and to get together in small groups, to be able to pray on their own in quiet, private places, and to be able to do publicly sometimes” on Wednesday’s episode of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins.” Believers, could “pray more than we complain” and “ask God to be able to change our own hearts as he’s working on the hearts of other leaders in the nation.”

The Bible has life-changing power, said Bernard, noting the hope and consolation it offered him and millions of others in their most excruciating trials. “That’s the Word we preach. That’s the Word we speak. That’s the Word we live. That’s the Word that came to us and changed every one of us,” he said.

When the Bible is joined to prayer, “darkness doesn’t stand a chance,” said Branzell.

Glenn Sheppard of International Prayer Ministries prayed against the murkiest elements of American society, “for building our barns of wealth at the expense of godly obedience and biblical stewardship,” for choosing to “speak politically correct at the expense of losing the voice of the prophet, and “for embracing half-truths, obvious lies of the enemy, and ignoring Your word that calls sin what it is: sin.” Above all, he implored God’s mercy on America “for sacrificing the lives of over 65 million unborn children on the altar of personal choice.”

“May we never forget that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people,” prayed Chaplain of the U.S. Senate Barry Black. He asked that the Almighty would “protect our freedoms” and guide political leaders to “seek You so that they may learn not how to get their own way, but how to take Your way.”

Dion Elmore, vice president of the National Day of Prayer, prayed for members of the armed forces and law enforcement officers. Geoff Eckart, founder of the national youth ministry Never the Same, prayed for God to shine His “grace throughout our schools,” and especially that Christian teachers “would light up these places of education … with their life, with Your word alive and burning within them.” He asked that “racism would be gone” and schools would teach all people to live in harmony.

Dianne Ogle of Areté-Executive Women of Influence, prayed for business leaders, “from entrepreneurs and small businesses to large corporations and board directors, from frontline employees to” CEOs to “repent of all pride and envy and greed and gossip, jealousy, selfish gain, divisiveness, unethical pursuits, deceptive plans, or anything that keeps us from Your holiness.” She encouraged all business leaders to become “workplace, marketplace missionaries” and to work at “a pace and cadence” that removes the temptation to treat work as an idol.

Troy Miller, president and CEO of National Religious Broadcasters, prayed “fervently for the arts, for the media, for entertainment, for those who use their talents and gifts to complete, inspire, entertain, and inform us, asking that they use their influence to “build up and edify and beautify Your bride, the church.”

This year’s D.C. event had an international character, featuring a visit from the Israeli Embassy’s deputy chief of mission, Eliav Benjamin, “We know that you represent a people who are in great pain — in great distress in this moment,” said Bishop Robert Stearns of Eagles’ Wings Ministries, referring to Israel’s ongoing war with Hamas. He invoked the providence and protection offered by the Lord, stating “though Israel is surrounded, it seems, on every side with enemies, she is much more surrounded by” God.

But the National Day of Prayer has long had a global reach. The 2023 broadcast reached 110 million Americans and 600 million people in 195 countries, according to the organization’s 2023 Impact Report — not including 43,000 National Day of Prayer rallies. This year’s event also undoubtedly reached “a great multitude which no man can number, of all nations, and peoples, and kindreds, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9).

The National Day of Prayer was codified in law on April 17, 1952, when President Harry S. Truman (D) signed Public Law 82-324, which requires the president to “set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” Former President Ronald Reagan fixed the annual event’s date as the first Thursday in May by signing Public Law 100-307 on May 5, 1988.

The Christian event continues to demand the attention of politicians from both parties. President Joe Biden observed the themes of the event in his 2024 presidential proclamation on the National Day of Prayer. “Scripture tells us to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer,” wrote Biden, as he asked Americans to treat one another with “honesty, decency, dignity, and respect.” California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), who engaged in a pitched public battle with Rev. David Jeremiah over COVID-19 church lockdowns and attempted to prevent Christians from singing in church, issued a proclamation hailing his state’s commitment to “inclusion” and to live together despite “every conceivable difference.” Far-left Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson (D) prayed “for real community safety” and “real investments” in the city’s finances, both of which have remain dismal.

On the other side of the aisle, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) posted a photograph of himself “praying that God will continue to bless America.” At the state level, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey (R) celebrated with an official proclamation saying Alabamians “unite our hearts and voices in personal prayers and public gatherings” with “fervent praise, repentance, love, and humble intercession for our neighbors and our nation.”

Not all observers appreciate the existence of the nationally-recognized day of prayer. Right Wing Watch, a project of the well-funded liberal pressure group People for the American Way, complained the National Day of Prayer featured unspecified “dominionist rhetoric and Christian nationalist speakers.” The Satanic Temple held a nationwide campaign to counter the event. “The National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional and un-American,” asserted the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The secular-progressive organization filed a lawsuit to abolish the National Day of Prayer, which failed in 2011. “The ‘psychological consequence presumably produced by observation of conduct with which one disagrees’ is not an ‘injury’ for the purpose of” the court, ruled the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Regardless of any legal status, Christians nationwide gathered once again on Thursday outside state capitols, city squares, public parks, even inside public high schools to unite in prayer. Liberty University President Dondi Costin prayed for God to “restore order, restore peace” to “college campuses today, which are in a state of chaos, and Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson headlined a prayer rally in in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where he shared his testimony of how hours of “reading, praying, and contemplating” God’s Word caused him to realize “the reason I was so angry was because I was so selfish.” Dr. Carson endorsed “legislation that guarantees the right to life for all American citizens, including those still in the womb” in his new book, “The Perilous Fight: Overcoming Our Culture’s War on the American Family,” which will be released this month.

Rev. Franklin Graham of Samaritan’s Purse released a video reminding everyone of the true meaning of the event. “Our country is in a real mess. And we see the hatred that is on our college campuses, the hatred that is around the world: Jesus understood hatred. They nailed him to a tree,” said Graham. “The greatest need this nation has right now is for changed hearts,” he said, as he led viewers to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

Ultimately, every National Day of Prayer event teaches Christians to deepen their dedication and consecration to Christ, said Branzell. “Prayer is caught, not taught,” said Branzell. “That means that we learn how to be prayer warriors. We learn how to pray by praying with other prayers. And that’s what you’ve done today.”

In Washington, the 2024 National Day of Prayer rally closed as Christians joined together in reciting a liturgical prayer composed by Branzell:

2024 National Prayer

“Jesus, we profess our faith in You. You are the Light of the world, and in You there is no darkness. For You are our lamp, O LORD, and our God who lights our darkness. Forgive us for fearing and focusing on the darkness around us instead of being filled with faith and shining like the city on a hill You have called us to be. Forgive us for the times when we have been the absence of light, allowing darkness to dwell in America. Lead us forward to dispel the darkness and bring light throughout the Church, Family, Education, Business, Military, Government, and Arts, Entertainment, and Media.

“We are saved by grace through faith, released from the darkness that once held us captive and now free to walk in the newness of life in You. Light dispels darkness and exposes what is hidden and wicked, so we commit to rise and shine! For by You, Lord, we can take courage to run against the enemy, and by our God we can fight the good fight and keep the faith as living lampstands in our communities and country. We fear no evil for You are with us.

“Lord, Your way is perfect, You lead us on paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Your Word is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. Your Word is Truth, instructing and inspiring us to live in the abundant life You gave when You saved us from the death and destruction of the enemy. Fill us with Truth as we read, study, and live Your Word.

“God, You are a shield for all those who take refuge in You. As we abide in You and Your Word abides in us, we take up our shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God and run boldly into the darkness to Lift Up the Word and Light Up the World! In the Mighty name of Jesus we pray, amen!”

Tony Perkins’s prayer for the family read in full:

“Father, we thank you for the family, which is by Your design. It wasn’t something we created or stumbled upon. You created it. We thank You for moms and dads who, in following Your design and Your instruction, have and are nurturing their children, teaching them to know You and to follow You. Father, we do ask You that you would forgive us for departing from Your design and rejecting the truth, as Matthew 19 records the very words of Jesus: ‘Have you not read that He Who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, for this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So, then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, let not man separate.’ Father, this morning, I pray that we may return to Your divine plan, where the home is the cradle of virtue, love, and respect, as children would once again be seen as a heritage from You, the fruit of the womb. And I pray, let Your word be lifted up in the homes of America again. As Moses recorded in Deuteronomy regarding Your commandments, may we once again teach them diligently to our children, and may we talk of them when we sit in our houses, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise up.

“May we speak of the eternal truths of Your word, and may we live them out — as we’ve heard this morning, the living Word of God. And let the instructions of the Apostle Paul found in Ephesians 6 guide us once again: ‘Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and your mother, which is the first commandment with promise, that it may be well with you, and that you may live long upon the Earth. And you fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and the admonition of the Lord.’ Today, we pray for those fathers that they would be the spiritual leaders of their home, courageous men who will follow the Lord and lead their families in doing the same. And Lord, we pray that You would reestablish Your design for family in America again, following Your words and Your ways, that the blessing of God would be upon subsequent generations. We pray all this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.