Thursday, May 5th is the National Day of Prayer in the US this year. A law regarding the observance of this day on the first Thursday of May was passed in 1952 according to the Wikipedia. There have been questions about the constitutionality of mixing Church and State and just last week the federal court of appeals overturned a 2010 decision which declared the day unconstitutional.
The essence of the appeals court dismissal is that this is a day which people can choose to observe. There is no force and no call to specific action from a specific religion. The idea is that people of faith are being encouraged to recognize this day as a day of reflection. While I understand that the word prayer may unsettle those of us who see ourselves agnostic or as atheists, I find that I like the idea of a day of reflection.
We have a day for everything under the sun from National Pancake Day to National Beer Day! Thanks to Freshly Pressed I recently discovered that we even have a Star Wars day. Before you say it, I know they are not all federally declared days! But it is not that hard to get behind the spirit of setting aside a day to mark something significant, is it? I don’t feel any compulsion to observe any of these special days but am delighted to read about how this is a significant day for somebody else. If we can accept that the Force and beer are important for other folks, is it that hard to accept the idea of prayer/reflection? Faith is a big part of many people’s life and it makes a lot of sense to acknowledge it – a National Day of Prayer is a way of acknowledging, I believe.
I look forward to hearing what others have to share on the way they see the National Day of Prayer. I am sure much of it will be solemn; and there will hopefully be some reflections that are sublime. It will be wonderful if all the reflections and prayers are sympathetic – not just to others who think like us, but also to those who don’t.