As today is the National Day of Prayer, it seems appropriate to comment on the day and on its implications for us as individuals and as a people.
The observance was established by law most recently in 1952 by Congress, which decided it would be a good thing for citizens “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”
Christians of numerous denominations, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Sikhs and other faiths in the United States observe the day, in their houses of worship and in public meetings, such as the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast, which may be under way as you read this. Other observances will be held during the day, most notable a noon prayer event on the steps of the museum in Courthouse Park.
Atheists either ignore the day or use the occasion to protest the National Day of Prayer’s existence. Actually, many people of many faiths also ignore the National Day of Prayer, just as they ignore other religious observances; however, most of those will insist they aren’t atheists.
Spirituality tends to be defined within, and is not always easy to measure. There are degrees of it. Some people openly declare their faiths. Others keep it to themselves. Some people need their spiritual beliefs as much as they need oxygen. They are willing, even eager, to share their thinking with others. At the same time, many others are afraid of believing, uncomfortable with the idea there may be a power greater than themselves.
Despite these complexities, people of many cultures and faiths have puzzled over their relationships with God for thousands of years. They have sensed that God is part of their lives, but are confused about how to connect with the deity.
Praying is one way any person can communicate with God — praising, thanking, asking for help for oneself and others. Meditation is how one listens to God — who we are told often speaks to those who would hear in a still, small voice.
Here is a prayer that always works: Almighty God, save me from myself; not my will, but thine be done. Amen.