National Day of Prayer Is More Than Just A One Day Observance: On today’s episode, we will be interviewing Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor of Cross Church in Northwest Arkansas. We will be discussing the National Day of Prayer and it’s importance not just once a year but everyday. Learn more by tuning in or reading now!
Air Date: 09/18/2017
Guests: Dr. Ronnie Floyd, David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Transcription note: As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.
Faith And The Culture
You found your way to the intersection of faith and the culture, welcome to WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, all of it from a Biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective.
Having that conversation today first with David Barton, America’s premier historian and our founder here at WallBuilders. Secondly with Tim Barton, national speaker, pastor, our president of WallBuilders. And my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state rep, national speaker, and author.
Later in the program, we’re going to have Pastor Ronnie Floyd, Dr. Ronnie Floyd with us. He’s been named president of National Day of Prayer. He’ll be also involved in our conversation later.
David, Tim, for now, let’s just start off talking about this policy of faith in the culture from the perspective of, should we be acknowledging God, not just privately, most everybody says, “Ok, you can pray in your prayer closet or even inside the four walls of your church.” But should we also be doing this publicly as we gather in public squares or even pass legislation, or resolutions, that honor God? Is that constitutional?
Issuing The First National Day Of Prayer
I think you have to ask that question a little differently. Should we be doing this from a historical, constitutional, legal, and Biblical perspective? If you’re asking from a progressive perspective, no, we shouldn’t be doing this. But if you want to know have we been doing this in history? Is this part of who we are? Yes.
Is this something the Bible says that we should do? Absolutely. First Samuel 2:30 and a number of other passages. Psalm says, “Every nation that won’t acknowledge God he will turn into hell.”
Yeah, the Bible says that a nation should be acknowledging God. From a constitutional perspective, absolutely. This is why we win so many cases on public acknowledgment of God.
Most recently in the city of Greece up in New York having invocations and benedictions, opening their city council meetings. We keep winning these cases. So, yeah. If you want the summary of probably all of that, I go back to the very first proclamation calling for thanks to God that George Washington issued on the day they finished the Bill of Rights.
On the day they finished it they had a discussion over in Congress, “What do we do? We finished the Bill of Rights.”
People like Roger Sherman and Elias Boudinot said, “We know that in the Bible when something really big like this happened they had a time of thanksgiving for the people.” And they said, “That’s a great idea. Let’s ask the president to give us a national day of Thanksgiving.” Which he did.
When Washington issued that proclamation, acknowledging the Bill of Rights is finished, “We want to thank God for the Bill of Rights.” He starts out the proclamation that says, “It is the duty of all nations.” Notice the word “duty,” “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection, and favor.”
Those are the four things that nations have. He didn’t say, people, he said that nations have a duty to do. He said, “Because nations have that duty, that’s what I’m doing. I’m doing what the nations are supposed to do. I’m calling people to a time of acknowledging God.
So are you saying George Washington hadn’t read the Bill of Rights yet?
Maybe he hadn’t seen the First Amendment where it says, “Separation of church and state.” Obviously, he was there at the convention, he kind of ran the convention, he was a chair. But maybe he just didn’t understand. No. Separation of church and state, you can’t do it.
They passed it and he hadn’t read it yet. So he didn’t know what was in it because he hadn’t read it yet, so you have to pass it to know what’s in it.
So, fortunately, no other president ever gave a prayer proclamation after that. And that just nipped in the bud right there.
Oh, wait. There might be one or two, just maybe one other time, right?
Hey, I’ve got a little piece of trivia for you. Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation for the National Year of the Bible, right?
I thought it was just the crazy Founding Fathers that might have made mistakes like this.
No, because now we’re talking about crazy conservatives like Ronald Reagan.
Any crazy people.
There’s a hand at the back of the classroom, would you acknowledge the hand please, sir? I have something to say here.
Ok, I’ll let you have 20 seconds.
Before Ronald Reagan did the year the Bible, President Lyndon Baines Johnson proclaimed a year of the Bible back in 1966.
Not a stalwart conservative by any means?
So like we said, all the crazy conservatives, right?
Crazy yes, but not conservative.
That’s a good point.
And do I need to point out that FDR also was really into prayer? As a matter of fact, every year on the anniversary of his inauguration he had a special rededication service at church taking his cabinet members and others to church.
But he was a conservative Republican, right? FDR, oh no, wait. This would be the Democrat.
Prayer Proclamations Are Very Common Throughout American History
What’s funny at this point is you can basically point to almost every liberal Democrat president throughout history up until Obama, and all of them have had prayer calls, prayer proclamations, very religious things from them.
Which certainly doesn’t meet this thought today of, “Separation of church and state, you can’t have prayer in government, and you shouldn’t have prayer here, and you shouldn’t have religion there.”
The historical precedent, the legal, constitutional, none of it lines up with where we are today. It’s a great point you’re making, when you look at these people, when you have Johnson, when you have FDR, even Woodrow Wilson.
So many of these guys who were pro-religion, pro-Bible, from the presidency, it certainly just doesn’t line up with kind of the modern today.
And not just singular individuals taking action, right? We can go to the Continental Congress. These are the people that would later give us the Constitution, that gave us the Declaration, how many times did they call on the nation for prayer?
Fifteen times they issued national calls to prayer, the Continental Congress, 15 times. But it was such a common part of what we did that under Reagan in 1984 they said, “Let’s just set a standard day for a national day of prayer. We pray all the time. Let’s make it a standard holiday, a standard day we set aside.” We do that now on the first Thursday in every May by federal law we have a National Day of Prayer.
As I recall, at that point time, isn’t that when Reagan had the Democrats that came? Because he came in on the election, I think in the off year, the Democrats took one of the bodies back. So as I recall, one of the chamber’s was run by the Democrats then and they still get the law passed-
I don’t think- he never had a Republican House, he only had a Republican Senate. I think for only about two years there. So this was, I think, even after that. Like you’re saying, I think the Dems had taken it back. So he was dealing with both the Democrat House and Senate.
And they’re the ones who passed this bill, he signs it into law, so a National Day of Prayer has been going since then. We’ve had great people run it. * was head of the National Day of Prayer, then Shirley Dobson was, then Anne Graham Lotz was the National Day of Prayer, now we have a brand new chairman of the National Day of Prayer and that’s Pastor Ronnie Floyd.
Ronnie Floyd is a really, really good guy a great pastor out of Arkansas. He’s now heading this national movement that’s established by federal law and it’s a good thing for all of us that this goes on. But Ronnie Floyd is the right guy to be running this.
Dr. Ronnie Floyd is our special guest today. Stay with us, we’ll be right back, on WallBuilders Live.
Moment From American History
This is Tim Barton from WallBuilders with another moment from American history. Founding Fathers John Adams and Thomas Jefferson originally worked closely together but later became ardent opponents.
This troubled Dr. Benjamin Rush, a signer of the Declaration, who knew both of them very well. In the Bible, Second Corinthians 5:18 tells us that God has given each of us the ministry of reconciliation. Dr Rush believed this and set out to bring the two back together.
It took a while, but Adams and Jefferson once again became close friends. Looking back on his role in helping bring about this reconciliation Dr. Rush stated, “It will give me pleasure as long as I live to reflect that. I have been in any degree instrumental in effecting this reunion of two souls destined to be dear to each other and motivated with the same dispositions to serve their country, though in different ways.”
For more information about Dr. Benjamin Rush and his other remarkable achievements go to WallBuilders.com.
Keeping Our Eyes On God
Welcome back, thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live! Our guest today Dr. Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas and the new president of National Day of Prayer. Dr. Floyd, good to have you on, sir!
Thank you, it’s awesome to be with you, I appreciate the opportunity.
Hey, excited about the 30th anniversary of the National Day of Prayer coming up this next year. You’ve got, obviously, a large church and just finished being president at Southern Baptist Convention. You’ve got a lot going on, what made you decide it was important enough to take the time to help steer this very special year for National Day of Prayer?
I just really believe that the greatest thing that we can do in this country right now is pray. That’s not eliminating activity, involved in our government, and cultural matters. But without question, we just need to appeal to God.
I feel like those of us are that are evangelical believers are somewhat like king Jehoshaphat and the group within the army with him when they were on the top of the mountain and they looked around and they were surrounded. The Lord just impressed upon him, “Lord, we don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you.” I do think this is the time that America needs our eyes on God because obviously, we are not solving our own issues.
National Day Of Prayer Is More Than A One Day Observance
What do you think, people in communities, why should they get involved in a National Day of Prayer event rather than just prayer at their own individual church?
I think they need to see the National Day of Prayer as a movement. Because in reality, that’s one thing that they really want me to do is to try to come in and really move it toward more than just a one-day year observance. That’s exactly what it is already. But to really forward that and talk about all the activity that goes on before then.
I think that what the church needs to see, what pastors and spiritual leaders need to see, people that are in places of influence in the town, or the city is that they can have a National Day of Prayer observance and they’re going to get general consensus even by the most secular community that that’s ok because it’s the law of the land.
They can use that as a strong witness of the gospel and of the power of prayer. If they will go to a NationalDayofPrayer.org they can begin to converse about how they could do that in their own community, and that’s what they should do. It’s just an incredible opportunity.
Whether it’s a group in a home, or whether it’s a small group in a church, whether it’s a mayor’s Prayer Breakfast which we have a lot of, or something at the state capitals which we have all those, and other matters.
Just appropriated to your life and use of it what you would categorize as your leadership level. Also, use it as a time just to talk to God about America. It might last 30 minutes or it might last an hour or longer. But make it who you are and use it for God’s glory.
I’ve seen a lot of different National Day of Prayer events over the years. It’s always really cool to kind of see the different denominations, different political leaders, and all the different groups coming together. Like you said, even sometimes those who aren’t even people of faith, they at least will recognize the right and the freedom for us to do this. But what a great opportunity to remind us who we are as a nation and how important it is that we do rely on God and not just on our own actions.
Exactly. One of the things that I’ve really forwarded since I was named president there, obviously, I was involved in the process with them before that, and that is that I really believe that we need to really strongly move this entire movement of prayer. Not simply to once a year but as many days as possible. But also it needs to become even more multi-denominational, more multilingual, more multi-ethnic, more multi-ministry, and more multi-church.
We need to go the broad span of American life and do everything we can to mobilize people. Last year the National Day of Prayer website states that there were 30,000 services, up to 2 million people attended. It was operated by 40,000 volunteers. It takes a lot of people.
Being A Witness For The Lord
The thing that people need to understand is that the National Day of Prayer belongs to the American people. If we really believe in the power of God, or we believe in the power of prayer, or we believe in both of those then we need to be engaged in it.
People in their community who are people of influence, whoever they may be, they need to use their platform that they personally have for a great witness of the gospel.
And those who don’t see themselves as “influences” in their community, I say again, they can do it where they are from a group of five ladies, to a group of 20 men, to a small group in a church, or whatever it may be in a community or neighborhood, make it who you are and let it be a tremendous witness for the Lord.
NationalDayofPrayer.org, is the website, folks. you can go there today to find out more and begin to prepare for that very special day next year when everybody is coming together.
As Dr. Floyd said, 40,000 volunteers, 30,000 different groups, all these different gatherings across the country, but also the resources between now and then to get people involved. Dr. Floyd, is that website the best place for folks to go?
Absolutely if they will go to NationalDayofPrayer.org, in fact, today we’re beginning to release, and I just was named president last week, but today we’re going to begin to release a weekly article from me and it’s going to point us toward that.
But it’s also going to speak to various matters of American life. So we’re going to start really re-engaging, leading, and really developing all kind of channels, digitally and in print to engage people in prayer and move people toward prayer.
So the bottom line is we need a movement of prayer in this country and it’s up to all of us. I hope that anyone will join us. They can get email updates. All they have to do is go to the right top of the website, click that, and it will activate immediately. So thank you for letting me share this with people today.
We appreciate you coming on. Appreciate what you’re doing Dr. Floyd, thanks for joining us here on WallBuilders today.
Thank you very much.
Folks, we’ll be right back with David and Tim Barton.
Hi, this is Tim Barton with WallBuilders and I want to encourage all the pastors out there with a unique opportunity that we’re presenting it WallBuilders. We’re doing a special tour just for pastors that you can come and learn more about the spiritual heritage of our nation. Not just seeing the sights but understanding the significance of what they are and what they represent.
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If you’re a pastor or if you want to recommend your pastor for this trip, you can go to our website at www.WallBuilders.com. And there’s a link that’s for scheduling. If you click on that link there’s a section for pastor’s briefing. There’s more information about the dates, when it’s going, and how it’s going to happen. If you want to know more about our nation, our religious liberties, our freedom, our spiritual heritage, this is a trip you want to be a part of.
National Day Of Prayer, Bringing The Nation Together
Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! Thank’s for staying with us today. Thanks to Dr. Ronnie Floyd for joining us today on the program as well. Back with David and Tim. Guys, he obviously is saying, “Look, this needs to be more than just that one day a year. Yes, let’s have that big day where everybody gets together. But let’s start looking at ways to bring the nation together in prayer throughout the year.”
I love the fact that he wants to make this into a movement. That really is historically more of what prayer was. They had prayer on a regular basis. We’ve talked before about how Thomas Jefferson helped facilitate the church. It started at the U.S. Capitol so that we had prayer not only in Congress every day in Congress with the chaplain but we also had it on the weekends by having church services in there. So it really was a movement back at that point in time.
I loved the way he was saying that we want this thing more racially diverse, more denominational diverse, we wanted even more language diverse. And that reminded him, I looked it up real quick, Revelation 7:9, it’s a great passage where John is looking there around God’s throne.
He says, “After this, I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, every tribe, every people, and every language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding a palm branch in their hand.” And on he goes.
I love that description of every nation, every tribe, every people, every race, every ethnicity, every language, every country, everybody is there. That kind of making it, that kind of diverse movement, it should be. God wants prayer from everybody, all over everywhere, at all points in time. So that’s a really good vision to have.
And what better way to bring us together and to unite us? We have so much unrest and all these different conflicts around the nation, it’s a great way to- kind of like the Promise Keepers movement did, which Dr. Floyd was involved with all the way from the beginning. I mean, that was a very healing type opportunity to bring people together in prayer.
There are arguments that are out there that, “Well, prayer is- because who are you going to pray to, and who’s going to do the prayer?” When that came up before, there’s a great response from Daniel Webster and from the U.S. Supreme Court in 1844.
He’s talking about Bible in schools, and religion in schools, etc. And the court, by the way, ruled in his favor that unanimous decision, “Yes, government schools will teach the Bible in schools.”
He pointed out to the court, he said, “Look back to the first prayer in Congress. Prayer was a unifying event. When they came together they were so divided, had such different opinions, there were 13 nations, they weren’t 13 states, they were 13 nations, they had border wars with each. Sam Adams, with his gray hairs, venerable Sam Adams stood and said, ‘I’m no bigot. I can listen to any man who will pray a prayer of piety and fears God.”
So, he talked about how that time of prayer is what unifies that very diverse country back at that point in time. And you’re right Rick, prayer is a unifying force. It’s something that God uses to bring all his people together. Jesus tells us in John 17, “Everybody needs to see that my people are one, they’re all unified, we’re all in unity.” And the National Day of Prayer is a great way to do that.
We’ll take a quick break. Stay with us folks, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live!
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Government Recognizing That There Is A Higher Power
Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. We’re back with David and Tim. Which, we were in the last segment, but we’re back with them again. Thanks again to Dr. Floyd for joining us.
We’re talking about the National Day of Prayer, today. Not only that, how important it is for us to have prayer as a community, not just in our own churches, but in coming together with other denominations and other people throughout the community.
David, Tim, all three of us speak at National Day of Prayer events around the country almost every year. And we get to see that firsthand, how cool it is to have the public officials, the leaders throughout the community, and the faith leaders especially coming together and having an opportunity to literally call out to God to heal our land.
Rick, it is something that’s unique as we get to travel and do so many of these events for National Day of Prayer. And you’re right, when you have state elected officials, when you have the mayors, you have the locals, as we are doing things it’s so neat to see them crying out to God.
One of the things beyond the fact that we want God’s help in our nation, we recognize we need God’s help, we also want government officials that fundamentally recognize they’re not God. And so it’s also encouraging from a government perspective when you have elected officials who recognize, “I’m not the highest power and authority.”
If you have government leaders who don’t recognize there’s a God then there’s no limit to what they think they can or can’t do because ultimately government becomes God. But when they recognize that there is a higher power and a higher authority than me, it puts government in perspective where it should be.
Then also when we can have a nation and our leaders of that nation they can cry out and say, “God, we need your help. There are things that are beyond our control. There are things that are bigger than us.”
It’s so encouraging for me, for the position of our nation, when we have opportunities to see those leaders come out and say, “We need help we need, God’s help.” And to see them cry out to God is always so encouraging and it’s encouraging for every individual who is in that room who sees these elected officials taking part and those kinds of events.
Be The One Who Speaks Up
And it’s great that Ronnie wants to turn this not only into a movement but notice what he said, that they’re going to be speaking to all areas of American life and that’s something that’s really needed right now. The church has really kind of made itself irrelevant in so many ways by not speaking to areas of American life.
But if you speak those areas, you then they’re going on and you can then pray about them. Of course, I love the way Ronnie started. He said, “Look, this is not something- I mean, praying is important.” But he said that prayer doesn’t eliminate our responsibility to be active in government. And he’s right.
John Hancock said, “I urge you, by all that’s dear, by all that’s honorable, by all that’s holy, that you not only pray but that you act.” So prayer was a big deal to him, he called a state to prayer 22 separate times. But he said, “Don’t stop there, you’ve got to act.”
And Ronnie really has that vision. So speaking in all areas American life, when you start pulling up stuff to pray for, if you pray for it you’re going to get active in it as well. And this is really a big deal.
Hopefully, that will become a model for other churches, and Christians, and pastors to start speaking to the culture as well, seeing what’s going on, and seeing how God’s Word works out there. What he’s doing is such a cool thing
By the way, it’s something worth contributing to as well. You can go to the website, NationalDayofPrayer.org, contribute to this. It’s a huge great ministry. Last year having 30,000 different settings where people came together and prayed, and civic locations, that is huge. Hopefully, it’ll be even more and bigger this year and it turns into a movement. That’s something worth contributing to and that’s a good place to put some investment money into the National Day of Prayer.
National Day Of Prayer From The Founders Perspective
As we’re closing out today guys, what about from the Founders’ perspective, as we were talking a little bit about at the beginning how often they did it. They also said that it wasn’t just something that we had the right to do, but they used that word “duty” so often that this was something that we must do. Not should do but must do as a nation.
Rick, I think it’s something that is clear in the Bible. Jesus told His disciples, “When you pray.” And he said, “When you fast.” The statement is not, “If but when.” So there is a Biblical expectation that we should be praying, we should be fasting, this should be part of our routine of life.
And the Founding Fathers, who certainly you could argue the most Biblically literate generation, they knew the Bible so well. Well, if they knew the Bible that well, surely they understood things the Bible said including the fact that they’re supposed to pray. They’re supposed to do this and this is part of a duty and obligation that we owe to God, that we recognize he’s our maker, that he is greater than us, he’s our creator and so we turn to him. So certainly historical precedent from the Founding Fathers following what the Bible clearly outlined was supposed to do.
Thanks for listening today folks, you’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!