Thursday, May 01, 2008

The National Day of Prayer

I have to admit, I'm not a big fan of "national" anythings. Yes, I know today (May 1st) is the National Day of Prayer. Yes, I think we need to pray for our country. And yes, I know that as a Pastor, some would say that I need to make a bigger deal out of such a day. But, I don't and here comes the reason why. In my opinion, to make a day out to be the "national" day of prayer is to say that the other 364 days are not days of prayer.

I'm reminded of how church attendance throughout the nation soared after the attacks on 9/11 as everyone was visibly shaken after witnessing such horrific death and destruction - and for good reason. However, sadly after only a few weeks, attendance at church was back to normal as we find better ways to spend our time. How quickly our lives return to normal and how quickly time heals even the worst that life can bring to us.

In a similar way, I think this is what happens when we make prayer a priority once a year. After the day is over, prayer so easily gets shoved aside and replaced with better ways to spend our time. As if prayer should only be a priority and is only needed once a year.

Now if the National Day of Prayer helps you to focus in on prayer unlike the other days of the year, then I would say "good for you." Keep at it! However, to make prayer a priority once out of the entire year is, in my view, an overall a bad idea. We are called to pray continuously without stopping. Brother Lawrence, a monk during the middle ages, showed us how to pray and be in God's presence even during the most mundane of tasks. In his timeless classic, The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence shows us how we can prayer while doing the everyday sort of stuff - like doing the dishes or doing our jobs.

I'm all for praying - just not once a year. If it would help, maybe we should have a National Year of Prayer instead. Now that I'm all for!