Yesterday was the National Day of Prayer in the United States.
According to my good friend Wikipedia, the National Day of Prayer is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. The modern law formalizing its annual observance was enacted in 1952, although it has historical origins to a mandate by George Washington, the first president of the United States.
Below is this year’s proclamation issued by President Barack Obama:
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER, 2012 BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A PROCLAMATION Prayer has always been a part of the American story, and today countless Americans rely on prayer for comfort, direction, and strength, praying not only for themselves, but for their communities, their country, and the world.
On this National Day of Prayer, we give thanks for our democracy that respects the beliefs and protects the religious freedom of all people to pray, worship, or abstain according to the dictates of their conscience. Let us pray for all the citizens of our great Nation, particularly those who are sick, mourning, or without hope, and ask God for the sustenance to meet the challenges we face as a Nation. May we embrace the responsibility we have to each other, and rely on the better angels of our nature in service to one another. Let us be humble in our convictions, and courageous in our virtue. Let us pray for those who are suffering around the world, and let us be open to opportunities to ease that suffering.
Let us also pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who have answered our country’s call to serve with honor in the pursuit of peace. Our grateful Nation is humbled by the sacrifices made to protect and defend our security and freedom. Let us pray for the continued strength and safety of our service members and their families. While we pause to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice defending liberty, let us remember and lend our voices to the principles for which they fought — unity, human dignity, and the pursuit of justice.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 3, 2012, as a National Day of Prayer. I invite all citizens of our Nation, as their own faith directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy, and I call upon individuals of all faiths to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time.
This is one of those things that I love about the United States. They really are not ashamed to talk about faith in public and let it be part of their national identity. Much as I would love to see something similar in this country, I can’t see it happening any time soon. Certainly with the state of our equal rights legislation, atheists would undoubtedly kick up a fuss complaining that they are being simultaneously excluded and offended as was the case with the council prayer fuss at Bideford Town Council earlier this year.
Anther reason for it being unlikely to happen is that I don’t see our political leaders having the stomach for it. Despite professing to be a Christian, David Cameron didn’t show much enthusiasm when responding to David Burrowes’ question asking him to support the Global Day of Prayer event at Wembley during Prime Minister’s Question Time last September:
It’s a massive shame if our Prime Minister doesn’t even feel able to acknowledge such a global Christian event publicly (however to his credit, he did offer his support afterwards in a letter).
Fortunately we have a monarch who is more than happy to make up for our political leaders’ reluctant to acknowledge the need to pray. I expect to see a lot of praying going on during the Jubilee celebrations and we should be very grateful that our Queen is so open about her Christian faith.
However, on the off-chance that David Cameron is reading this, please can I make this suggestion to you? I know you’re not Barack Obama and our country isn’t the United States, but when David Burrowes asks you in the House of Commons again this year if you will support the Global Day of Prayer, rather than waiting until later to write another letter, could you at least manage a “Yes”? Prayer really isn’t something to be ashamed of. Saying that you believe in prayer most definitely does not make you an unelectable freak.
Categories: David Cameron, Prayer, President Obama
You said in the article above, “Much as I would love to see something similar in this country, I can’t see it happening.” That is why we must pray. We need faith for the things we do not see; Hebrews chapter 11 (the Bible). God is more than able to do more than we ask or imagine. So let’s ask.
You’re right – thank you. I should have more faith! It’s not impossible for this to happen. We do need a big change in attitude from our politicians. God can indeed do all things and we need to get serious and pray hard for our nation.
Agreed. God has a track record when it comes to saving nations. Ezra and Nehemiah tell us how God changed the hearts of Babylonian kings to authorise and support the rebuilding of the city walls and temple of Jerusalem. The captives even returned loaded with all the gold implements of worship that Nebuchadnezzar had pinched!
That was the Israelites, but the national days of prayer during both world wars were strategic in delivering our nation too. Besides, Britain has a Christian heritage, which desperately needs revival and restoration. There is a powerful prayer group inside Westminster praying into this precedent. Thankfully, Livingstone will not get his chance to make London the Islamic capital of Europe!
David Cameron may be in disarray with conflicting forces, many of his own making, but I believe that he has the ability to follow his convictions as he sees them. Although his Christian convictions at present appear uncertain, our prayers need to be that his eyes will be fully opened.
Richard you’ve really spoken some powerful truths here.
We need to pray for our nation’s leaders. They need God’s wisdom, even if they don’t realise it. Contrary to what many of the public might think, running a country is an incredibly difficult job. Prayer has got our country out of dangerous situations and messes in the past. We will never know just how much God has intervened to save us. Those of us who understand this need to pray to God that he won’t desert us at this time because of our unfaithfulness to Him as a country.
This comment is a little ‘late’ but I would like to offer Gillan @ God and Politics in the UK a small reminder about God’s faithfulness. Jesus spoke these words to his disciples,
King James Version (KJV)
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
So if we will but stay in Him, He will stay in us and provide what we ask. Considering how we tend to leave Him out of our lives and decisions we make, He is still faithful to us.
Praise be to Him who lives eternally!
Thank you for that reminder. It’s so easy to lose sight in our everyday lives of what God can achieve if we trust and believe HIm. Faith as small as a mustard seed can move mountains. I know I fall short of this so often and I know the church in our country does too.
Dear Father, please give your church the vision to see what can be achieved when we turn to you and then let us act on it.