Wednesday, May 06, 2009

National Day of Prayer

Oh Dear! Today is our National Day of Prayer and it's looking more like the Thirty Year's War. I was wondering why the president is ignoring a day dedicated to prayer for our nation--limiting his involvement to issuing a proclamation--but after doing a little research, I understand. After all, someone who leapfrogs from being Emil Jones' yes-man in the Illinois Senate to President of the United States in half a dozen years doesn't do that without mastering duck-and-cover.

The National Day of Prayer Taskforce--a private group--has put up a very nice comprehensive website complete with live videos, a link to local events, and numerous prayer resources.  For some odd reason it also features  a NASCAR "National Day of Prayer" racing car, too,  which I suppose might just be a religious symbol in the rural South. While the name of the group might make you think there's something official about them, there isn't. They focus on the Judeo-Christian heritage of the United States, specifically Christianity.  The Jewish website people--despite there being a special Seder at the White House earlier this year-- are pretty angry at the Taskforce, who they claim are highjacking the day for their own views.  Another group website is partnering with the Inclusive people,  but their agenda seems much more about politics than anything spiritual. They suggest writing your Congressman that the day lacks inclusion, and that is about as far from prayer as one can get. In fact, they seem to be a political website without anything about religion at all. Heaven help us!

Personally, I can't think of a better idea than for the White House just to invite all the various religions over for some shared prayer, as George Bush used to do. I seem to remember that in past years National Day of Prayer events have  been held at the National Cathedral, which of course not a government institution. This gave Congress a chance to put in some non-controversial facetime while acting cordial to one another. Unfortunately, the National Cathedral will be spending the morning hours preparing for the afternoon funeral of the late Congressman Jack Kemp.

With all the bad news lately, I think it's a good day to pray for our country no matter what religion you like. One good thought: "Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection and strength-even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The Pilgrims at Plymouth relied on prayer during their first and darkest winter. Our founding fathers also called for prayer during the Constitutional Congress. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a direct gift from God. And being a gift from God, there was only one way to insure protection-through prayer."


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