Christian leaders, lawmakers and distinguished guests packed into the U.S. Capitol for the 68th National Day of Prayer observance Thursday night, calling on Americans of all political stripes to "love one another" or run the risk letting a divided kingdom fall.
In the midst of a split Congress and a politically divided America, believers gathered at the Statuary Hall for a night of worship and intercessory prayer, fervently asking God to use His divine power to heal the ideological divisions plaguing the nation.
"We are deeply honored, every one of us, to live in the greatest country in the history of the world but we also are keenly aware that we are a country experiencing problems and difficulties: things like racism, things like hatred, things like violent crime and a host of other things," Georgia Republican Congressman Jody Hice said during the event.
"All of these things are an indication of the true problem, which is a spiritual problem of the heart. The reality is that this spiritual problem cannot be changed by another law or another piece of legislation."
The only solution for the problem, Hice, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, said, is for God to bring about a spiritual awakening that transforms the hearts of Americans so they can "once again love Him and love one another and therein our nation is healed."
Ronnie Floyd, a Southern Baptist pastor and author who serves as president of the National Day of Prayer, explained that Jesus made clear in John 13:34 that His followers are to "love one another just as I have loved you."
"John 13:35 goes on and says, 'everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another,'' Floyd said, adding that unconditional love is the only action that gives a person away as a follower of Jesus Christ.
"You are not known by your creeds, by your songs, by your doctrine, by your knowledge, by your achievements, by your dress, or by your appearance. Jesus says you are only known by your love."
Floyd pointed out that the word "love" is used 12 times in John 1 through John 12 and 44 times in John 13 through John 21.
"The love is the key theme in Jesus' farewell to His disciples," added Floyd, who was recently elected as the new head of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. "Jesus' prayer for unity in John 17 for His disciples and the Church is driven by His burden of love for us."
"Just think what would happen if 'love one another' [happened] across America life. How many marriages would be saved and healed? How businesses would experience more prosperity? How many churches would thrive, grow and explode with Gospel advance?" Floyd asked.