Pleas for revival and religious freedom were heard repeatedly at the National Day of Prayer service today (May 7) in Washington, including the keynote address by Southern Baptist pastor Jack Graham and a letter he read from imprisoned pastor Saeed Abedini.
Graham, pastor of the 40,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and a former Southern Baptist Convention president, served as honorary chairperson of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.
“We are facing a crisis in America. These are desperate days,” Graham said to the hundreds gathered at the Canon House Office Building. “This is a crying time in America. It’s a time for tears.”
Graham called for extraordinary prayer, emphasizing the event’s theme “Lord, Hear Our Cry,” taken from I Kings 8:38.
“There’s a time for ordinary prayer,” Graham said. “But there is a time for what Jonathan Edwards the great revivalist called extraordinary prayer. Uncommon times call for uncommon prayer, and so we cry out to God. We cry out to God.”
Graham prayed for Abedini, imprisoned three years for his faith in Iran, where officials have threatened to extend his current eight-year sentence to life imprisonment, unless he renounces Christianity and embraces Islam. The national prayer observance coincides with Abedini’s 35th birthday.
“We should always remember to pray for suffering Christians, the persecuted church, martyred believers around the world,” Graham said. “We must never forget them.”
Abedini issued an open letter from prison to Christians on the occasion of the national prayer observance, which Graham read during his address. In the letter, Abedini urged Americans to make the most of religious freedom enjoyed here.
“The National Day of Prayer is a great opportunity for us to come out and use the freedom that we have been given. So many Christians around the world are imprisoned and martyred for their faith in Jesus,” Abedini said. “You have the freedom to gather across the United States at your state capitol to pray. Please use this opportunity. Please use your freedom for the Kingdom of God.
“Change starts with us. Revival starts with us. The first step to revival is praying together in unity as a nation,” Abedini wrote.
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SOURCE: Baptist Press