By now, I am certain you know that today is the National Day of Prayer. Perhaps you even know some of the history relating to its establishment and focus over the years. Maybe you are also aware that President Obama has decided to pass on the East Room Inter-faith Prayer Breakfast that has been the tradition over the past few years. His reasoning was that since prayer is a personal matter and since prayer is a regular part of his daily life, he thought the day would be better served by making a paper proclamation as some of his predecessors have done in the past.
The National Day of Prayer Committee, chaired by Shirley Dobson, expressed disappointment. The Interfaith Alliance was actually pleased, because they resent that the National Day of Prayer Task Force has been given so much latitude over the day, saying that this national day of observance does not belong solely to the task force.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is defending the National Day of Prayer in federal court in Madison, Wisconsin. It seems a lawsuit was filed there by the Freedom From Religion Foundation saying that the existence of a National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional since it violates separation of church and state. The Obama Administration disagrees and is standing up for the observance since it was written into law in 1952 and since 1988 has been proclaimed by Presidents.
So what to make of all of this?
- It is good that we have a National Day of Prayer
- It seems good that the President prays
- It seems strange that he doesn’t want an interfaith prayer service
- It seems right that his administration is defending the NDOP in court.
- It seems evident, that we are infected with religious pluralism in America.
This pluralism has caused us to recognize a national opportunity to pray (which is something we’ve always had) but has done little to increase the national appetite for prayer and, sadly, it has left the nation with an anonymous god. Really, the National Day of Prayer – as presented – does little more than accent the idea of religion and spirituality within the context of the nation. If America were a restaurant, then the National Day of Prayer would be a mini-religious buffet on a larger menu full of other special interest mini buffets. A day, where we can go to the table and choose the tossed salad over the pasta salad, and skip the fruit plate completely. But at least we are called to the table.
So what about us? Prayer is the privilege of every person and the glory of a nation. Jesus is Lord and one day, everyone at the spiritual buffet table will bow to Him. According to scripture, we ought to always pray and not to faint and if we, who are called by His name, will humble ourselves, pray and turn from our wicked ways, the Bible promises we will hear from heaven and experience national healing. Because prayer is personal does not mean that it cannot be corporate. Because other faiths are praying to their deities, does not weaken the prayers of those who pray to God in Jesus’ name: He is not in competition with any other god.
So instead, I encourage you to skip the national drama and the opportunity for political positioning and choose a place to fall on your knees and cry out from the depth of your soul, that the one true God, who is revealed to us through Jesus Christ, would have mercy on every person, family, business, government and the nation-at-large. That a true spiritual awakening will sweep this land, calling people everywhere to repentance and faith in God through Christ. Pray that until our economic downturn (our land) is healed, that it would be useful in turning the nation’s attention toward heaven. Pray that terrorism, war, human trafficking, ruthless political regimes, poverty, all kinds of abuse, fatherlessness, addiction, and suffering of every sort will be quelled, and that our hearts and homes will be truly satisfied by justice and mercy. Let us pray…