National Observance: Join hands for the Day of Prayer

President Barack Obama signed a declaration for the 2011 National Day of Prayer observanceTHURSDAY, MAY 5: It’s amid ongoing debates that millions of U.S. citizens join their hands to observe the 2011 National Day of Prayer, as it was proclaimed by President Barack Obama last month. Each year since 1952, the President of the United States has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation. When Harry Truman created the joint resolution with Congress, it was written that each president would declare the presence of this observance each year. (Wikipedia has details.) Although President Obama has not held any formal events for the National Day of Prayer—as George Bush did—he has signed for its continued observance. (View this year’s proclamation.)

Supporters of the National Day of Prayer note America’s historical affiliations with prayer: from Pilgrims, some of the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., prayer has been a tool of hope and guidance. (Click here for the National Day of Prayer’s official site.)

Debate surrounds the current National Day of Prayer Task Force’s fairly limited Christian expression. Nevertheless, persons of all faiths do feel encouraged to utilize this day and hold community events, sometimes as alternatives to the official events.

Beyond debate over the nature of the official organization, some groups dispute the nature of any public prayer. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, for example, challenges the observance’s legality under the U.S. Constitution. (Articles are at Fox News, CNN and in the Christian Science Monitor.) Last month, after several appeals, a panel at the 7th District Court of Appeals stated that the President can, indeed, support prayer, if he chooses to do so.

Care to read some newly created prayers for diversity? Here’s a ReadTheSpirit gateway to two remarkable prayers for peace, written collectively by dozens of men and women!

Originally published at, an online journal covering religion and cultural diversity.

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