National Day of Prayer, May 2, Calls Believers to ‘Love One Another’

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, tells The Stream what "Love One Another" looks like.

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on May 1, 2019

“Love one another. Just as I have loved you,” Jesus said in John 13:34. This verse inspired the theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer: Love One Another.

Believers across America will tune in and gather together to pray publicly for the church and the nation on Thursday, May 2. Americans have honored the National Day of Prayer annually since 1952.

National Observance

Dr. Ronnie Floyd, president of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, will lead the national observance on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. EST in the U.S. Capitol. The event will stream live on Daystar Television Network, the National Day of Prayer website and Facebook page. It’s also embedded at the bottom of this page.

Alongside Floyd, speakers include:

  • Reverend Anthony B. Thompson, whose wife was murdered in Charleston, South Carolina, the shooting at Emanuel AME Church in 2015; author of Called to Forgive
  • Sammy Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and pastor in Sacramento, California
  • Jay and Dianne Strack. Jay is the founder of Student Leadership University and LIFT tour. Dianne is co-founder of a national women’s prayer movement, She Loves Out Loud.
  • Nick Hall, founder of PULSE
  • Julio Arriola, missionary to Mexico
  • Andrew and Norine Brunson, missionaries to Turkey. Andrew Brunson was released last year after spending two years in jail in Turkey.
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Leading up to the National Day of Prayer, hundreds of believers have gathered in front of the the U.S. Capitol for the annual Bible Reading Marathon. Believers read the entire Bible aloud in multiple languages, for over 90 hours. The event started on Sunday and ends on Thursday, the National Day of Prayer.

A Theme to Unify

Floyd unveiled the theme in October, saying he hoped it would engage all Americans and unify believers in public prayer.

“A divided church cannot call a divided nation to love and unity. Let’s come together in love,” Floyd said.

Floyd answered some questions for The Stream via email on the theme of Love One Another and what it looks like to love one another in America today.

Presidential Proclamation Acknowledges Foundational Truths

President Donald Trump issued a proclamation on April 30, designating May 2 as the National Day of Prayer.

This annual proclamation is required by a joint resolution signed into law by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. President Ronald Reagan signed an amended version of the resolution in 1988, making the first Thursday of May the designated day.

President Trump’s proclamation acknowledged dependence on God and the significance of religious liberty to America’s freedom.

“We also acknowledge our dependence on God’s love to guide our families, communities, and our country away from harm and toward abundance and peace. Our Nation acknowledges that religious liberty is a natural right, given to us by our Creator, not a courtesy that government extends to us.”

The proclamation also acknowledges America’s history of public calls to prayer, starting at the founding of the nation:

“In 1775, the Continental Congress first declared a day of prayer, asking American patriots throughout the colonies to pray in earnest for divine help in forming our Republic. […] Today, we also pray for strength for our Nation and our Armed Forces as we face new challenges at home and abroad.”

Interview with Dr. Ronnie Floyd

How did you come up with the theme, “Love one another”?

Leading up to every National Day of Prayer we ask ourselves one key question: What is the heart of God for America?

This year, God brought to our attention that we as a country have strayed from his greatest commandment — to love him and one another. In fact, Jesus himself said that his followers would be known for their love for one another. We need to realign our lives with this commandment if we want unity in our churches and in America.

Why is this theme significant to America now?

You don’t have to search long to realize love is painfully absent in America. Evidence of it is on the news every day. And it’s not only absent in our politics and on social media, where we obviously see so much division. It’s also absent in our communities, our churches and our homes. That’s why I’m not surprised that recent polls say Americans have higher stress, worry and anger levels today than in years past.

We live in a world full of anger and hostility, a world that doesn’t know God. This is why Jesus stressed the importance of love. He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). A world that doesn’t know love doesn’t know God.

What is love?

If we want to understand love, we have to look at the life of Jesus. How did he live? How did he treat those around him — friends, strangers, even enemies? He said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). Jesus taught us that love is about giving ourselves out of love and for love for the good of others. It’s why the Apostle Paul said that we can give away all of our possessions to the poor, but if we don’t have love, we are nothing (1 Corinthians 13).

What does it look like to love one another?

You could argue that there is love in our society, but a lot of it is love of self. We are individualistic and we often seek our own good, even when it comes at the expense of others. Loving one another would look like the opposite of this. It’s about putting somebody else before you. It’s about blessing those who curse us. It’s about tearing down the barriers that divide us and replacing judgment, hate and criticism of one another for unconditional love for one another.

What does it look like to love those who promote something we believe is against God’s heart? For example, how do you love those who promote the gay agenda?

I have always said this: we must hold God’s truth in one hand while holding God’s love in the other. The two of them are not mutually exclusive. We don’t have to agree with people to love them — and disagreeing with someone doesn’t mean we hate them. Romans 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If God loved us while we were still far away from him and broken human beings, how much more should we show that same love to those around us?

What would be a successful National Day of Prayer 2019?

Our ultimate goal this National Day of Prayer is to see a “Love One Another” movement sweep through America. We want to see love in action in our churches, homes and government. We want to see a new day in America where love replaces hate on our headlines, our politics and our lives.

Wherever you are, you can join us on the National Day of Prayer. You can find a prayer gathering near you or create your own, or you can join us for the National Observance, which will be streamed live. Our team has created a prayer guide that you can use in your gatherings, and I have written a prayer I will pray over America during the national event.

Let’s pray for America.

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