HOW FAITH - AND AN OLD AIRPLANE - HELPED REVIVE
THE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
By Rev. Ted Pike
In 1776, President George Washington, in gratitude for divine assistance
in defeating the British, proclaimed that a National Day of Fasting
and Prayer be observed on the first Thursday in May. This was to
be an occasion in which all Americans were encouraged to do nothing
but intercede for God’s continued guidance and protection.
Yet, especially during the 20th century, the national day of prayer
was virtually forgotten.
In 1980, my father, Rev. Claude Pike, a Christian conservative radio
commentator in the Pacific Northwest, was deeply concerned that,
with the election of President Reagan, spiritual as well as political
renewal be encouraged for America.
Revival of the national day of prayer seemed a perfect means to
help return America to faith. But what could he, just one man, do?
Twelve years earlier, our aviation family, my commercial pilot brother
John, my father and I, had restored, as part of our youth ranch ministry
to inner-city youth in Portland, Oregon, a 1929 Bellanca Pacemaker,
a very rare, long-distance record-setting monoplane. We bought the
wreckage, its fuselage broken in half, for $150.00. It had crashed
in a lake in Canada.
“Why not take our Bellanca, christened as “Old Glory,” my
father suggested, “and fly around America calling for re-establishment
of the national day of prayer?”
So, in August, 1980, powered by a droning 450 horse power radial
engine and $3,500 from a loan shark, the three of us took to the
air. We had a super-loud speaker attached to the belly of the Bellanca
as we circled around the major cities of America. Millions heard
our loud speaker blare, “Pray for America.”
A huge aerial banner trailed behind us with the same slogan easily
visible to multitudes. From Boise, Idaho, to Watervliet, Michigan;
to Tupelo, Mississippi, to Dallas, and Los Angeles, we circled above
patriotic rallies and gave interviews to the press. We gathered many
thousands of signatures petitioning the President to revive the National
Day of Prayer.
Finally, while in Washington, D.C., promoting our cause to religious
and conservative leaders, my father was able to take his request
directly to Morton Blackwell, President Reagan’s liaison to
the religious community. Several weeks later, on Feb. 6, 1982, my
father was in the Oval Office of the White House, witnessing along
with other “new right” religious leaders, President Reagan’s
re-instatement of this long-forgotten day of prayer and gratitude
Soon Congress passed its own resolution and large Christian-conservative
organizations, such as Campus Crusade for Christ and Focus on the
Family, made observance of the National Day of Prayer a national
institution. Predictably, the ACLU tried vehemently to nullify both
the President’s proclamation and the Congressional resolution,
claiming that they violated separation of church and state. Yet the
National Day of Prayer survived all legal challenges.
Today, just as President George Washington intended, church bells
all over America ring out on the first Thursday in May. They remind
us that we as Americans are free only as long as we continue to remember
God as the author of our freedom, and are ever vigilant to preserve
His priceless gift.
Decades earlier, the twisted hulk of “Old Glory” lay
on the bottom of a Canadian lake, its fuselage broken in half, its
wings collapsed. Yet, a visionary radio preacher, by faith, resurrected
it to soar again, fulfilling its greatest mission.
Today, America, with over half of her marriages failing, and drugs,
pornography, sexual perversion and abortion rampant, is in a predicament
similar to that broken airplane. Can God resurrect America to soar
again to the potential that our Founding Fathers envisioned?
God’s promise remains: “If my people, who are called
by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and
turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and forgive
their sin, and will heal their land.” (II Chron. 7:14)
The National Day of Prayer is a potent tool toward national revival.
Religious leaders and broadcasters, let’s make the most of
it this Thursday!
The National Prayer Network is a Christian, conservative watchdog
organization. It came into being as a result of the many contacts
the Pikes made during promotion of the National Day of Prayer.
National Prayer Network has two websites: www.hatelawsexposed.org
For an interview with Rev. Ted Pike, call 503-631-3808.
National Prayer Network, P.O. Box 828, Clackamas, OR 97015