Letter: Day of Prayer tradition carries special meaning in pandemic

Posted 5/2/21

To the editor:

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. This year marks the 70th anniversary …

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Letter: Day of Prayer tradition carries special meaning in pandemic

Posted

To the editor:

The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for the nation. This year marks the 70th anniversary of its official observance through a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. Our nation has endured a year marked by unprecedented challenges, but we know that prayer has carried us through these days and the hand of God will move us into a brighter future.

Tiverton is holding a short public gathering at the Town Hall flagpole at noon on Thursday, May 6. There are also some virtual options available for you to participate at home: National Observance Live Broadcast on May 6, 8 pm Eastern Time at:  www.nationaldayofprayer.org, Facebook Live, God TV, Daystar TV, TLN TV.

Continuing the history of this day from the nationaldayofprayer.org website, the National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation as 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 for 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.

Like Thanksgiving or Christmas, this day has become a national observance placed on calendars and observed annually across the nation and in Washington, D.C. Every year, local, state, and federal observances are held from sunrise in Maine to sunset in Hawaii, uniting Americans from all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds in prayer for our nation. At state capitols, county court houses, on the steps of city halls, and in schools, businesses, churches and homes, people stop their activities and gather for prayer.

Because of the faith of many of our founding fathers, public prayer and national days of prayer have a long-standing and significant history in American tradition. Thomas Jefferson said, "Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it." The Supreme Court affirmed the right of state legislatures to open their sessions with prayer in Marsh vs. Chambers (1983).

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 National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. During this pandemic, we all need to pray, and be unified in prayer. As we believe and pray in 2021, this year’s theme echoes our prayers: “LORD, pour out Your LOVE, LIFE, and LIBERTY.” Once again proclaiming a promise of God in the theme verse, 2 Corinthians 3:17 NKJV, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

Susan E. Anderson

Tiverton

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