Congress created the National Day of Prayer in 1952, following precedents set by the Second Continental Congress in 1775 and continued by Presidents Washington and Lincoln. This year’s theme is “One Voice, United in Prayer,” based on Romans 15:6, “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Not everyone is united in prayer today. In fact, the American Humanist Association is sponsoring a competing National Day of Reason. Rhode Island’s governor has signed a gubernatorial proclamation of support; atheists in Omaha, Nebraska are holding a public rally; two members of Congress have offered their official affirmation as well.
Supporters of the National Day of Reason apparently think we must choose between prayer and reason, between faith and intellect. Is this true?
Francis Collins was an atheist who became convinced of the truth of Christianity by studying scientific evidence for the faith. As head of the National Institutes of Health, he is arguably the best-known scientist in America. Josh McDowell was a convinced agnostic who prepared a paper in college to disprove the Christian faith. His research instead led him to faith in Jesus. He has written international bestsellers defending the Christian faith and addressed more than 25 million people with the gospel.
James Tour is the Chao Professor of Chemistry at Rice University and one of the world’s leading nano-engineers. He rises at 3:30 AM every morning to study Scripture for two hours. John Suppe is the Blair Professor of Geosciences Emeritus at Princeton University and a passionate missionary. Martin Andreas Nowak is Professor of Biology and of Mathematics at Harvard University. He believes that “science and religion are two essential components in the search for truth. Denying either is a barren approach.”
Alister McGrath has doctoral degrees in molecular biology and theology, and has been a strong opponent of Richard Dawkins and the “new atheism.” Michael W. McConnell directs Stanford University’s Constitutional Law Center and is a former federal judge. He is an unapologetic Christian who embraces the sanctity of life. Ben Carson is Professor of Neurosurgery, Oncology, Plastic Surgery, and Pediatrics and Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, and a passionate Christian.
The man who gave the academic scholarship that allowed me to attend college told me when I graduated, “The Holy Spirit has a strange affinity for the trained mind.” Jesus calls us to love God “with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The Lord invites us: “Come, let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18).
Must we choose between prayer and reason? Will you give God both today?