On Thursday, May 7th Americans will be observing the National Day of Prayer. In 1952 President Harry S. Truman signed legislation inviting all people of faith to join together to pray for our nation. In 1988 President Ronald Reagan signed an amendment establishing the first Thursday of May as the fixed day for the observance. Even our Governor, Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation calling for prayer. https://www.gov.ca.gov/2020/05/07/governor-newsom-issues-proclamation-declaring-day-of-prayer-5-7-20/
The call for the faithful to pray for our nation began before the establishment of the United States. In 1775 the first Continental Congress called on all the colonies to pray for wisdom and you see how that turned out. Good for them.
In 1863 during one of the darkest times of our history President Abraham Lincoln called for a day of, “humiliation, fasting and prayer.” To the modern ear the inclusion of “humiliation” in this request is interesting. Even in our day when the Judeo-Christian culture is held in contempt in the public square prayer and fasting is still understood to mean placing supplication and thanks before God and the denial of fulling desires such as hunger or whatever else might be set aside for a time. But humiliation? How would the modern press, talking heads and chattering class respond to an elected official calling for humiliation? One shudders to think of the contents of the sewer the haughty might open to desecrate and insult such a call.
Yet, in Lincoln’s time it was understood (and for many in our day) to humble oneself is life sustaining for ourselves and others. It means to put another first, to subsume our needs and desires for those of another, simply – to express love through action. Jesus is, was and always will be God. One of the reasons God is God is He has attributes beyond our finite understanding. He created all. He exists outside of time and space and commands everything in this or any other universe. That’s not something we as created beings can experience and fully grasp. So Jesus came to earth as a man, something we can relate to. He humbled Himself to do so.
For us to humble ourselves also means acknowledging God’s supremacy. When we humble ourselves before God; recognize we are not the ultimate authority and He is – it places us on an equal footing with the rest of those He has created in His image. It unifies us in the knowledge we are not the end all be all of existence. There are those who want this nation’s people fighting each other; ask yourself who are they serving? May this Thursday be a day of humility and unity.
“Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.”
—Thomas Jefferson, 1808
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