National Day of Prayer

Today is the National Day of Prayer. I just found out about this. I guess I’m not as connected to the religious right as I thought, although I’ve known for a long time that Shirley Dobson is the one who heads it.

According to this article from Harvard’s Pluralism Project, various Presidents since John Adams have called for national prayer, particularly in times of emergency. Some founding fathers were skeptical about the idea, however. James Madison thought that a national day of prayer meant that the state was promoting a religion, which he saw as a bad thing. You know, conservatives like to talk about an “originalist” approach to the Constitution, one that tries to determine what the founding fathers originally meant when they wrote the document. But what if the founding fathers disagreed amongst themselves about the Constitution’s meaning? We have John Adams proclaiming a national day of prayer, and James Madison opposing the idea! What do we do then?

Ronald Reagan was the President who put the National Day of Prayer on May 7. Presidents since then have held parties to celebrate the event, but, apparently, President Barack Obama is not holding one. To his credit, he is trying to block legal attempts by the Freedom from Religion Foundation to stop the holiday (see here). But he is not hosting any events. The White House spokesperson said that he will pray in private, as he does every day.

I’m a little disappointed in President Obama, but I want to follow his example and pray at home for my country. First of all, I hope and pray that we get out of our current economic mess, whether it be because of or in spite of President Obama’s economic policies. Losing a job is not a good thing, to say the very least, and many of us have felt the pinch of today’s bad economy. For a lot of us, it’s not just been something that we’ve watched on the news! I hope that God takes note of our suffering and leads us into better times.

Second, I hope and pray that America’s policies will do good in the world. Many have pointed out the bad effects of American foreign policy, but there is a part of us that desires to do good. I hope that we yield to that desire, and that our policies will make people freer and more prosperous. I applaud President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton for their concern about the civilian casualties in Afghanistan, since that gesture yields to the best that is within us.

Third, I pray that people will love one another. As President Obama said in his inaugural address, we can’t just keep looking to government to solve our problems. We have to do our part, since we the people are the United States of America. That is an idea that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush expounded as well. I hope and pray that there will be a spirit of national repentance that leads us to love our neighbors.

Finally, I pray that the number of abortions will be reduced under this Administration. We should be a society that values and respects life! President Obama is pro-choice, but he has expressed a desire to reduce the number of abortions. I pray that God will bless this endeavor.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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