Today is the National Day of Prayer

I shared with some preschoolers that today is a special holiday when anyone can talk to God. It is called the National Day of Prayer. A preschooler looked strangely at me and said, “Maybe grown-ups should know that every day is a day we can talk to God. We don’t need a holiday. We could use another Christmas, but we really don’t need a holiday to be told to pray.”

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As the leaders of our country all stand together and use prayer as a tool for betterment, it is interesting to look at the history of this day. According to Wikipedia, the National Day of Prayer shares common roots with the celebration of Thanksgiving; both were national proclamations establishing a day of prayer, but in the New England Colonies under British rule, traditional observances in late fall called for prayer and thanksgiving, while observances in the spring or summer called for prayer and fasting. The fall observance was established by President Abraham Lincoln as the official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863. The spring observance was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1952 as the National Day of Prayer.

For over 60 years, we have been using the first Thursday of the month of May to offer prayer as a whole nation. This year, the theme of Day of Prayer will be “Lord, Hear Our Cry”. Prayers from any person in any religion or belief are encouraged by the Senate to turn to God and pray.

I have no idea how many people actually follow through with the Senate’s request. One day, one request, and no consequence that we can overtly see if we don’t follow through may be hard to track.  If one day is so hard to get a majority of people to gather around, I can only imagine how hard it would be to join together each day.

However, as my preschool friend shared, we really don’t need a holiday to pray in America. We are fortunate to live in a free country that allows us to pray each day whenever we can. Often we hear that you need to use things or you will lose them. This may be one of the times we follow an axiom.

  • If your family celebrates Thanksgiving each year, do you also celebrate the National Day of Prayer?
  • What could you do to make a day of prayer something meaningful to you?
  • What could be different if people would pray more than one day a year? 
  • Will you consider being like a preschooler who just cannot understand why one day of prayer  is enough? Will you let God hear our cry?

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