National Day of Prayer

posted by Jeffrey on Thursday, May 04, 2006 at 11:30 AM

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National Day of Prayer. What exactly is that? I mean really, have you ever thought about it? I hadn't until today. It is supposed to be a day where people of all faiths throughout this country could pray together in their own ways.

This day has been "official" since 1952 when president Truman signed a bill making the National Day of Prayer into law, but the earliest recorded national day of prayer was in 1775 when the Continental Congress issued such a day to designate "a time for prayer in forming a new nation."

Wait a second, did I just say that this day is law? Nothing more on that thought for now...

Anyway, we've quickly moved away from the inclusive nature of this official day. The National Day of Prayer Taskforce is headed up by Shirley Dobson out of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, CO. In the FAQ section of the Taskforce's website (which I cannot get to work today) there is a statement that reads, "Americans of all faiths are encouraged to participate in the [National Day of Prayer] according to their own traditions. However, the [National Day of Prayer] Task Force [only] provides promotional materials and sponsors several events in keeping with the Judeo-Christian tradition". Doesn't that defeat the purpose of people of all faiths praying together in their own ways?

As I was first thinking on this I thought, "how silly is that? people of all faiths coming together to pray in their own way? What's the point in coming together if we're going to pray in our own way?" Then I realized that though I do not believe the same as people of other faiths [that is, faiths other than that in Christ] surely I could still learn from their rituals and dedication. Surely the Spirit of God could work out great relationships with someone--here's an idea--different than myself!

As my thoughts began to swirl even deeper into the vortex of my own pessimistic dementia, I came to the questions, "Is a day nationally set apart for prayer even conducive to living a life of dependency and faith in Christ? Doesn't it allow us to even further compartmentalize our lives and continue to move away from a holistic life in Christ? etc..."

As I attempt to combat my negative nature, let me say that I realize for some, this day and days likened to it (Christmas, Easter, etc) may serve as a springboard back into the journey of a life with Christ. For that I'm utterly and deeply thankful. My fear, however, is that they'll ascertain through there renewal experience that such a journey is lived from Sunday to Sunday, holiday to holiday, day of prayer to day of prayer.

If I'm a follower of Christ, it is the life of Christ that lives in me. It is His breath that allows me to breath. Maybe the sole or primary aspiration of a Christian should not be that of devout prayer at regular, set apart, and consistent intervals of time (though those practices are healthy); instead, perhaps it should be, primarily, to become aware of the life of Christ in me, and to depend on that life for everything. I think that when we can learn to do that, regular conversation with Christ (prayer) and other spiritual disciplines will happen naturally. That's what Jesus taught. [see Matthew 22]

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