The message for this year’s National Day of Prayer is simple: unite.
In honor of the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer, about 40,000 people from across the United States are expected to participate in the event that honors prayer, the Christian Broadcasting Network reported. They’ll be celebrating under one idea — “One Voice, United in Prayer.”
But do believers need a National Day of Prayer? Is it something the United States should have?
On one hand, people are planning events across the country. Florida is having keynote addresses, a unified prayer program and a prayer breakfast. Alabama, similarly, is having a breakfast and gatherings for the day. Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said Washington, D.C., is pushing for people to honor prayer and America with the celebration, CBN reported. "There is still a God in heaven who hears our prayer" and "cares about our lives," Lankford said, according to CBN.
And President Barack Obama issued a proclamation to celebrate the event, opening it by saying, “One of our Nation's great strengths is the freedom we hold dear, including the freedom to exercise our faiths freely. For many Americans, prayer is an essential act of worship and a daily discipline.”
But Carol McPhall of AL.com posted a poll for users to share their voice on whether the United States needs a day to celebrate a daily act.
“Can gathering to pray on a certain day once a year make a difference in life of the nation?” McPhall wrote.
Well, for some, the Day of Prayer is turning into a day about reason. Atheists are planning a ‘Day of Reason.’ Rhode Island’s Gov. Lincoln Chafee is one of the main champions of this idea, mostly because people are opposing the day celebrating prayer, Charisma News reported.
“Atheists and secularists oppose a national day of prayer, saying it's part of a ‘persistent threat’ to the separation of church and state,” Charisma News reported. “They think a ‘Day of Reason’ will help them fight back.”
In Chafee’s proclamation, he said that reason has “proven to offer hope for human survival upon Earth by cultivating intelligent, moral and ethical interaction among people,” Travis Gettys of the Raw Story reported.
So more people are questioning the idea of a day of prayer. But Ann Morici of Examiner.com sees the day as a connection back to American heritage.
“Prayer has always been an important part of our country, dating as far back as 1775 when the Continental Congress designated a time for prayer in forming our new nation, and continued with a call for a day of prayer with President Abraham Lincoln in 1863,” Morici wrote.
And Bonnie Willis of The Citizen wrote Tuesday that praying is a positive step forward for Americans, as it allows people to show their spirituality in a unified way.
“For the National Day of Prayer is not intended to force or impose a religious view on anyone, nor does it represent some perceived constitutional threat,” Willis wrote. “Rather, it is an exercise of constitutional freedom, a wonderful expression of goodwill and love by those who choose to pray for the continued success of our nation, out of a desire to honor the God in whom we believe.”
Copyright 2017, Deseret News Publishing Company