The National Day of Prayer is an historic and vital part of our collective heritage as Americans. Even before the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1775, the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation. A call to prayer has continued throughout our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “fasting and prayer” during the Civil War in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Harry Truman, declared an annual day of prayer. In 1988, the proclamation was amended and signed by President Ronal Reagan, permanently setting the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday of every May.
On May 5, 2016, this nation marked the 65th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer throughout the country and in Washington, D.C. Local farmer and businessman Charles W. Herbster took part in the events. Mr. Herbster has been an active member and sponsor of the National Day of Prayer Task force for over 15 years. He has worked extensively with Mrs. Shirley Dobson, Chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer, and her husband, noted author, theologian and founder of nationally syndicated “Focus on the Family” ministry. Dr. James Dobson now hosts the radio program “Family Talk” with his son Ryan.
This year’s National Day of Prayer was particularly noteworthy because it marked the 25th anniversary of Shirley Dobson’s leadership of the event and the appointment of a new chairperson, Anne Graham Lotz. She is a Christian evangelist, and the second daughter of evangelist Billy Graham and his wife Ruth. Anne founded AnGeL Ministries, and is the author of 11 books, of which her best known is “Just Give Me Jesus.”
Mr. Herbster has personally worked on the National Day of PrayerTask Force with numerous leaders over the years, including prominent religious leaders Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Chuck Swindoll, Dr. David Jeremiah, Franklin Graham, and Dr. Tony Evans, the honorary chairman of the 2016 National Day of Prayer. Dr. Evans is founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas, former chaplain of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys and present chaplain of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks.
The 2016 National Day of Prayer was the largest in the 65-year history. A formal dinner, entertainment and program kicked off the event hosted by Mr. Herbster on May 3 in the atrium of the Reagan Building on Pennsylvania Avenue. Over 400 dignitaries and guests enjoyed the evening where Mrs. Dobson was honored by several special tributes, including a statement from former President George W. Bush. Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie was the featured keynote speaker at the dinner. Dr. Ogilvie is the author of over 50 books and served as chaplain of the U.S. Senate from 1995 to 2003. He is currently president of Leadership Unlimited and affiliated with the Fuller Theological Seminaries.
The evening’s entertainment included the Martins; a Christian music vocal trio composed of three siblings: Joyce Martin Sanders, Jonathan Martin and Judy Martin Hess. Since 1999, the Martins have been a popular touring group and have had a number of Gospel and Christian bestselling albums. Mark Lowry, a former member of the Gaither Vocal Band, entertained with his comedy monologues and accomplished vocal music. Lowry is a successful songwriter in addition to a captivating performer. He is most noted for his song “Mary Did You Know?”
The National Day of Prayer observances were held on May 5 in the Cannon House Office Building. The event was attended by people from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area and across the entire nation with coverage shared nationally via television and Internet links. The attendees included Congressman Robert Aderholt of Alabama; Dr. Tony Evans; Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, noted author and head of Beth Israel Worship Center; Dr. James Dobson and Mrs. Shirley Dobson; Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas; Senate Chaplain Barry Black; House of Representatives Chaplain Patrick Conroy; Anne Graham Lotz (future chairwoman); Dr. Dick Eastman, noted Christian author and head of Every Home for Christ Ministries; and Dr. David Butts, President of Harvest Prayer Ministries. Along with numerous religious and political leaders across the nation, hundreds of couples and individuals came together to hold our country and leaders up in prayer.
“The National Day of Prayer is observed nationally once a year, please remember our nation and leaders every day in your prayers,” said Mr. Herbster. “It is important that we never forget the freedoms we hold dear in America are because our forefathers based the Constitution on Biblical principles and spent time in prayer for guidance and direction. Thousands of each branch of our military have fought and died for these freedoms. It is more important than ever to stand up for America—on our knees in prayer. Let’s not take our freedom for granted. I challenged the individuals who attended the Tuesday evening event to do their part, and in turn, I ask you to do your part. I intend to continue to support the National Day of Prayer, the great State of Nebraska and the United States of America.”
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