May 1 is National Day of Prayer in the United States. The tradition predates the founding of the country, when in 1775 the Continental Congress called for prayer for the forming of a new nation. Throughout US history, presidents, such as Abraham Lincoln, have called for Americans to pray for their nation, its people, and its elected leaders. In 1952, an act of Congress designated a National Day of Prayer to be observed annually, which was later set as the first Thursday in May.
I especially like this observance. One reason is that I’ve found that prayer is always a good idea because it is effective in any situation. I’ve seen prayer resolve difficult family conflicts and bring angry, opposing parties in a community together to agree upon solutions that were satisfactory for all involved.
I also like the uniting influence that prayer has. With a population of more than 315 million, the country has at least that many differing opinions. But the national observance calls on the best in men and women to unite in gratitude for the good that has been done and effectively pray for a better tomorrow. And many have found that such prayer actually unites us with the rest of the world. In fact, the focus of this year’s observance is “1 Voice United.”
That focus reminds me of the golden rule, which is one teaching that unites all people. Its basic teaching is prominent in most religions as well as most ethical traditions. Its demand to love one another and to treat each other with respect and dignity is universal. When it is lived, barriers of discrimination, politics, time, and distance are dissolved.
In Christ Jesus’ words: “[A]s ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise” (Luke 6:31). And he proved the power of such goodness to heal sickness, bring freedom from bondage to sin, and raise the dead.
Speaking of the underlying power of such godliness, the founder of The Christian Science Monitor, Mary Baker Eddy, explained, “The divinity of the Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 25). And, “God is universal; confined to no spot, defined by no dogma, appropriated by no sect. Not more to one than to all, is God demonstrable as divine Life, Truth, and Love; and His people are they that reflect Him – that reflect Love” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 150).
What might we pray today? Remembering that we stand on the shoulders of the good men and women who came before us, we can give thanks for the courage and compassion that built a country based on the recognition of individual rights and responsibilities of each one of us. Let’s give thanks for the freedom bestowed on its citizens in the recognition that no one should own or control another but that each of us is endowed with “unalienable rights” by God. And we can give thanks for the many throughout the world who meet daily challenges with courage and compassion as they seek to prove their God-given freedom as well.
We can pray for elected leaders as we might pray for ourselves; that is, that we be guided by wisdom and brotherly love in our daily encounters and decisions.
We can unite in prayers for peace and acts of goodwill. Divine Love is universal and can direct us to needed solutions to feed the hungry, provide clean drinking water throughout the world, and end conflicts at home and abroad.
There is nothing too hard for God. As revealed in Christian Science, God’s oneness precludes the alleged power of anything that does not reflect Him. And when people determine to recognize that and consciously abide in the acknowledgment and acceptance of such oneness, all things are possible.