A National Day of Prayer – Make it for Peace

Today (Thursday, May 2), we celebrate the National Day of Prayer. Of course, every day should be a day of prayer, but how does this become a “national” day in a country that claims a separation of church and state?

The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was unanimously amended by both the House and the Senate and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on Thursday, May 5, 1988, designating the first Thursday of May as a day of national prayer. Every president since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

There are a number of organizations and individuals who feel the day has been politicized by many to promote an agenda as well as a particular religious viewpoint. This is easy to see, with its founders having ties to Billy Graham, Pat Robertson, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Focus on the Family. One such organization, the Freedom from Religion Foundation offers their opinion and history of this day here. However, it would behoove all Christians (and perhaps all faith communities) to follow the Episcopal Peace Fellowship‘s call for Christians everywhere to be known by our love (the 2019 National Day of Prayer theme) and to be instruments of peace in a violent society. They write in their latest e-news:

Easter was the 20th anniversary of the Columbine Shootings. It has been 7 years since Trayvon Martin was killed, and nearly 5 since Michael Brown and Tamir Rice were shot dead. It has been more than a year since Parkland. There were 15 reported deaths from gun violence in the U.S. on Easter Sunday. There have been 100 American mass shootings in 2019. As of April 30, more than 1,000 children and teenagers have been killed or injured by guns in 2019.

A Litany of Gun Violence

by the Rt. Rev. Stephen T. Lane, Episcopal Bishop of Maine (updated 2.28.18). Permission is granted to amend or adjust as necessary.

Giver of Life and Love, you created all people as one family and called us to live together in peace. Surround us with your love as we face again the tragedy of gun violence.

For the children and adults who were killed _____ , (the brave ones who died protecting others), the many who were wounded and hospitalized, the traumatized, grieving survivors, and those known to you alone, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Righteousness, you have granted our leaders, especially Donald, our President, and ________, our Governor, the members of Congress and of our courts and legislatures, power and responsibility to protect us, and to uphold our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Strengthen their devotion to our common life and give them clarity of purpose.

For all who bear such responsibility, for all who struggle to discern what is right in the face of powerful political forces, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Compassion, we give you thanks for first responders: police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and all those whose duties bring them to the streets, the schools, the malls and the homes where the carnage of gun violence takes place every day. Give them courage and sound judgment in the heat of the moment and grant them compassion for the victims.

For our brothers and sisters who risk their lives and serenity as they rush to our aid, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

Merciful God, bind up the wounds of all who suffer from gun violence, those maimed and disfigured, those left alone and grieving, and those who struggle to get through one more day. Bless them with your presence and help them find hope. 

For all whose lives are forever changed and broken by the scourge of gun violence, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Repentance and Forgiveness, we hold before you ____ (the one who fired the weapon) and seek your grace for transformation. We cannot forgive – not yet – but we trust in your power to make all things new.

For those who from malice or illness are the instruments of violence and death, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God Who Remembers, may we not forget those who have died, more than 30,000 in the past year, in the gun violence that we have allowed to become routine. Receive them into your heart and comfort us with your promise of eternal love and care. 

For all who have died, those who die today, and those who will die tomorrow, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Tender Mercy, be with those who are overwhelmed, enraged, frustrated and demoralized by the plague of gun violence. Give them a sense of your presence and plant in them the seed of hope.

For those whose hope for life in this world is shattered and broken, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

God of Justice, help us, your church, find our voice. Turn us from the worship of power. Give us courage to confront our false gods and to protest the needless deaths caused by gun violence. Help us rise above our dread that nothing can be done and grant us the conviction to advocate for change. 

For your dream of a world where children are safe and all of us live together without fear, Loving God
Make us instruments of your peace.

All this we pray in the name of the One who offered his life so that we might live, Jesus the Christ.
Amen.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.