Teen task forces will organize their own version of National Prayer Day on the eve of the actual event on Thursday, May 6 in which millions of Americans unite to pray for our country and its leaders. “Freedom”, the National Prayer Day for students led by youth, is intended to promote true freedom found in the Lord.
Even though the size of Freedom events is not expected to compare to the official National Day of Prayer event held in Washington D.C. this year, it’s unique because everything involved in planning, promoting, and executing the event is done by local youth prayer taskforces.
Organizers from the National Day of Prayer suggest teens use school auditorium or facilities such as football stadiums to host the observance, which includes worship time usually led by Christian bands, intercession, and teaching.
Among the groups participating in Freedom, South Florida Freedom Rally will most likely be the largest. The South Florida Prayer Task Force coordinated by students from the eighth to 12th grades led by Teen Coordinator Matthew Puchferran plan to fill Mizner Park Amphitheater in Boca Raton, Fl., with residents from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
Puchferran said that the group’s goal is to get 80 churches involved. Some 30 members of the South Florida Prayer Task Force have already distributed 500 posters and 2,000 fliers. In an effort to set up an expected 15-20 sponsors for the event, they have also visited local businesses to raise a goal of $12,000 in funds.
The team has also posted ads on four radio stations that carry religious programming to publicize the event.
"I think it's really important for youth to get involved, pray together and take a stand in the community," said Rebekah Mack, an 18-year-old member of the Prayer Task Force.
A live Christian band, raffle, and –of course- a time for prayer will make up the South Florida observance. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is also making a DVD to show during the Freedom event, featuring an interview with Christian band Third Day.
Other locations will be hosting the teen kick-off of National Day of Prayer, some not as big-scale as South Florida’s expected gathering but are just as welcoming.
Monica Mueller, the coordinator for the Freedom event to be held at Shawano Community High School in Shawano, Wisconsin, is hoping the gathering will be ecumenical. "We encourage everyone to attend," Mueller said. "It is so exciting to be with people from all different churches."
Freedom and the National Day of Prayer events will pray for the nation’s leaders by focusing on “The Freedom Five” topics: government, media, education, family, and church.
Shirley Dobson, chairman of the National Day of Prayer, explained why prayer for the five topics is so important.
"Our leaders confront difficult challenges every day and our society faces a future of uncertainty. We live in the land of the free where 'we the people' can openly call upon God for wisdom, protection and blessing. In order to realize the potential outlined in the Declaration of Independence, we must continue seeking Divine counsel, asking for His intervention and direction,” Dobson said.
The prayer day first started in 1775 when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, according to the National Day of Prayer's Web site.
It wasn’t until 1952 that President Truman signed a joint resolution with Congress to declare an annual day of prayer.
Today, the National Day of Prayer is held the first Thursday of every May ever since President Reagan signed the law in 1988.
On May 6, Oliver North, who is the 2004 Honorary Chairman, will be the keynote speaker of the event in Washington D.C. The executive, legislative, and judicial branches of our government will be represented by Education Secretary Rodney Paige, Rep. Charles Stenholm, D-TX, and Justice Kenneth B. Bell, respectively. The military will be represented by General Peter Pace, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.