National Day of Prayer | JOY for Today

As a nation built on a foundation of faith, certain practices remain that keep us united in faith. National Day of Prayer is one of them. Let us pray today for our nation. And as our minds focus on things of heaven, may our spirits know JOY once again.

A man's folded hands on top of an open Bible with glasses across the page. Text overlay quotes I Thessalonians 5:17
National Day of Prayer: May's First Thursday

JOY for Today Offerings:

Did You Know:

  1. There is no "right" physical posture for prayer? We often associate prayer with a person kneeling with head bowed, hands folded, and eyes closed. Yet, scripture depicts people praying while walking, standing, sitting, kneeling, lying prostrate, and with hands held high. (The Gospel Coalition)
  2. Amen has multiple meanings? It can mean "so be it," "verily," "truly," "truth," and "let it be." (The Gospel Coalition and Bible Hub)
  3. You're more likely to pray daily if you are a female over the age of 65? According to a 2014 study conducted by Pew Research 64% of women and 65% of adults over the age of 65 pray daily. Comparatively, 46% of men and 41% of people under the age of 30 pray daily. (Pew Research)
  4. U.S. Presidents have called for national prayer over 150 times? Our country was built on faith, a belief in God's providence over our country, and confidence in the power of prayer. In 1774, before our country declared independence, the Burgesses of Virginia passed a resolution to set aside a day to seek God with fasting and prayer in response to an embargo passed by the British. The most recent call for a national day of prayer (in addition to the official annual day in May) was given by President Trump on March 14, 2020, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. (Daily Effective Prayer, Pew Research, Shades of Grace, and Heritage
  5. Several studies indicate prayer positively affects well-being? Older adults worried less about finances and experienced better health when they regularly prayed for others. In people who experience anxiety, participants who perceived God as loving felt greater relief than those who perceived God as distant and unresponsive. Lastly, cancer patients who focused prayers on thankfulness and support for others experienced the fewest depression symptoms.  (National ReviewOxford AcademicWiley Online LibraryNational Library of Medicine

We'd Love to Know:   

Which fact was new to you?

Wolfe Stew Connects

To a believer, prayer is important, so important that we often get hung up on praying correctly. To avoid praying wrongly, we avoid prayer, stick to prewritten prayers, or concede prayer to people who "know how to pray." Yet even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1-13).

Every believer develops a unique relationship with God and should approach prayer differently. So, while my struggles may not be yours, I hope you'll see that the important part of prayer lies in remaining faithful through the struggle. In continuing to show up and choosing to seek His presence, we draw nearer to God. And in His presence there is fullness of JOY (Psalm 16:11). 

When I pray, I sometimes struggle to:

Be Authentic
  • As I read prewritten prayers or recite memorized prayers. Instead of falling into cadence with those around me, I challenge myself to consider each word. I picture who I am speaking to as I consider why I am saying it, and what I mean by it. Then, while I'm not praying my own words, I can add my own meaning and my own voice to it.
  • By pouring my heart out. Instead of waiting until I am emotionally ready to pray, as I find myself often doing, I struggle to come as I am. When I do, I say exactly what is on my mind and lay my emotions bare. I don't get caught up in using the "right words" or coming with the "right attitude." I let loose. And it's okay to do so. I'm not alone in it. The Holy Spirit will step in (Romans 8:26), and Jesus will intercede (Romans 8:34). I just speak.
  • By praying spontaneously. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to pray at all times. We're not to wait for the right time, circumstance, or attitude to pray. We're to pray anytime, anywhere, in any mood, and for any duration. He longs to hear from us always. I forget this. I have my routine prayer times, but I often forget that those interjections of "God, you're so good!" or the desperate "God, I need you!" pleas are still received by His ever-ready ears.
Seek Connection
  • As I build a relationship with God through prayer. I pray unidirectionally and forget He longs for my heart, for all of me, not just the surface-level me. I struggle to experience prayer as a conversation. Instead of using prayer time to learn how to grow closer to God, I spew my requests at His feet, go through my predetermined routine, and move on. Yet, we only allow ourselves to be known by God when we seek to know Him more. The relationship grows as we vulnerably share ourselves and earnestly seek to understand Him. 
  • By giving Him space to speak. I rarely commit to spending time with God just listening. Content to be in His presence. Not transmitting, receiving. Being still. Allowing Him to be known by me in His way, in His time. Spending time in His word, where His voice comes to life, and responding in prayer to what He teaches.
  • By acknowledging that He is God, and I am not. I struggle to trust Him at all times with all things. Yet, I need to. This is faith. I work to remember that in the end it really will be okay because He's still on His throne and I'm still with Him. That I can leave my problems in His hands and that I should return them anytime I try to take them back. 
  • By letting go of expectations. I come to prayer with a specific idea of what the end result should be. And as I pray, I make my requests known. I am bold, honest, and specific. But I struggle with refusing to assume I know exactly how God will respond. I told my nephew that I often entertain the idea that when we come to God with a plan of how exactly He should respond, He thanks us for telling Him precisely what not to do. In the end, I remind myself, "It's in His hands. He will work it for good."

When I struggle to find the words, sometimes I:

  • Just start. "God, I don't even know what to say right now or how to say it, but I know I need you...." Then as I pray, I remind myself that He loves me better and cares more deeply for me than anyone else ever will. His opinion of me will not change. So, I speak, and He listens.
  • Pray scripture. Whether it is one I found that addresses a specific concern, one that I am currently studying, or one that pops into my head, praying scripture is helpful when I am unsure of what words to say or when I need to cling to a promise God has made.
  • Sing a song. Or a lyric or two. Often, as I'm praying, a song will accompany my thoughts, so I add it. Other times, when I'm not praying and a song enters my thoughts, I'll offer the song itself as my prayer.
  • Praise Him! I'll focus my prayer on praise. I give Him recognition, glory, and appreciation for the good things around me. Or, when I'm experiencing heartache, I praise Him for His faithfulness by recounting the evidence in my own life.
  • Just say Jesus. There is power in His name! Never underestimate what simply speaking His name can do. When I am overwhelmed with emotion, this practice fills me with peace and gives me assurance that I am not alone; He's working alongside me.

In response:

  1. Pray. No rules, no expectations. Spend time relationship-building with God.
  2. Join us as we grow to be hardworking and resourceful by looking at Proverbs 31. Next week, we will start considering what it means to be resourceful with an in-depth look at ships and food. Take a peek at our Wolfe Notes to see what we covered last week. Or engage in last year's growth opportunity and learn to TRUST God's Promises.

Bible Verses and Quotes 

Bible Verses

  • "Never stop praying." I Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
  • "And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you." Luke 11:9 MEV
  • "But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you." Matthew 6:6 NLT
  • "Also, the Spirit helps us. We are very weak, but the Spirit helps us with our weakness. We do not know how to pray as we should. But the Spirit himself speaks to God for us, even begs God for us. The Spirit speaks to God with deep feelings that words cannot explain." Romans 8:26 ICB
  • "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."  Matthew 18:19-20 KJV


  • "True prayer is a way of life, not just for use in cases of emergency. Make it a habit, and when the need arises you will be in practice." - Billy Graham
  • "The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays." - Soren Kierkegaard
  • "It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart." - Mahatma Gandhi
  • "Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference." - Max Lucado
  • “Prayer lays hold of God's plan and becomes the link between his will and its accomplishment on earth. Amazing things happen, and we are given the privilege of being the channels of the Holy Spirit's prayer." - Elisabeth Elliot

We'd Love to Know:

Which verse or quote inspires you to strengthen your prayer life?


Activity Suggestions

National Prayers

  • Compare and Contrast Presidential prayers from Belief Net. Based on your discoveries, how was the state of the nation similar and different at the time of each prayer?
  • Make a Timeline of the presidential prayers throughout history. Which prayer that you read about intrigued you most? Why?
  • Draft a Prayer for the current state of our country. Use the presidential prayers as a model and browse headlines for ideas or focus on problems already on your mind.

Personal Prayers

  • Gather topics for prayer (learner) and (leader)
  • Choose a structure for prayer: 
    • Learner: In His Hands Prayer Model (*I renamed it this. After praying through the five fingers, remind yourself to leave it in His hands.) 
    • Leader: The PRAY Model (mentioned in Fervent by Priscilla Shirer and modified slightly here).

Discuss "Would You Rather..." Questions

  • Pray or sing for an hour?
  • Listen to someone pray for you or pray for someone else?
  • Write your own prayer or memorize a prayer someone else wrote?
These questions are unique to this post. If you would like three "Would You Rather...?" questions for every May day, download this Wolfe Stew PowerPoint. 

Take on the Family Challenge

Talk about prayer. Are there rules to prayer? Write a set of prayer guidelines for your household.

We'd Love to Know:

How you ready yourself to pray.

We’re excited to share one more day with you and wish you JOY for Today and HOPE for Tomorrow. 

Your Partners in JOY Finding,
Red stew bowl with steam rising from top. Wolfe Stew crawled on front.

Find even more JOY for Today in our monthly calendars, holiday, and seasonal posts.


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