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National Day of Prayer: What Is It?


The annual National Day of Prayer has been in the news a lot lately: rumors that the President was canceling it, a U.S. District Judge ruled that it’s unconstitutional, NDP Honorary Chairman Franklin Graham was disinvited from the Pentagon’s prayer service, and so on.

With all this talk about prayer, and about the National Day of Prayer (which is coming up on May 6), I figured I’d start a conversation about it. From the NDP site:

The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.

The NDP site goes on:

The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people. The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.

Prayer is not a political form of communication, though our representatives have engaged in it and encouraged us to engage in it. I’ve participated in years past, and plan to do so again this year. Why? Partly out of submission to those in authority over me. And partly because something mysterious takes place when God’s people gather together to pray.

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