Well, it’s official. Today, May 5, 2005, is the National Day of Prayer. There’s a Presidential Proclamation giving it the government’s imprimatur. Just in case you were wondering.
While I’m hardly against prayer, I am against having a single day marked as a specific “National” day of prayer. But then, I’m generally against any and all such special days, months, years, decades, millenia, whatevers. It seems that whenever we try too hard to “celebrate” something or another, we cast it in the light of being unable to sustain itself.
National Pickle Month, for example, is July. Also in July, we have these tasty treats:
Lasagna Awareness Month
National Baked Bean Month
National Hot Dog Month
National Ice Cream Month
National July Belongs to Blueberries Month
National Picnic Month
Now these are all worthy things. Who among us, after all, doesn’t really like at least one of these things? The point is that dedicating an entire month to any of them is simply a marketing gimmick. After all, there is no food so foul as to not have some association of growers or packers or distributors or grocers pushing them on us.
Wait, we say — isn’t prayer totally unlike such commercial boosterism? Doesn’t prayer to the Almighty deserve special recognition in the form of a Presidential Proclamation, a special day? Yes, prayer is totally unlike ice cream, although they do share certain attributes. They can both be exceptionally tasty, and the can both satisfy an intense inner craving. Not only that, but prayer isn’t fattening.
The point is that to have one day set aside as the “National Day of Prayer” trivializes what should be second nature to believers. OK, it’s May 5th. You can pray today. What you do tomorrow; what you did yesterday, that’s of no concern to us. Not that we are ever prohibited from praying. Oh. We are? If you think we are not, try having your child lead his classroom in prayer.
Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5, provides us with this instruction:
16Rejoice always, 17pray without ceasing, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
Pray without ceasing. Not just on May 5. Always. Every day, every moment of our lives. How to do this? Well, this will vary depending on one’s beliefs. Some people prefer rote prayers, mandated and repeated time and time again. Others to pray in groups with a set liturgy. Some don’t admit to praying, but give thanks to our creator in their own way; itself a form of prayer. Mix and match, and let no one tell you your form of prayer is insufficient in God’s eyes. Who are they, God’s optician?
No one in ths world is keeping score. Just pray. Without ceasing.