A day to pray together
April 28, 2014
by Pastor Tim Wheatley, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Cokato

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

A National Day of Prayer is planned this week. You may ask yourself, what is the National Day of Prayer, and when did it begin?

Days dedicated to prayer are as old as the nation itself. A time of prayer was called for in 1779, by the continental congress. We know that it actually took place May 6th of that year – notably, General Washington ordered a one-day ceasing of recreation and “unnecessary labor” so that prayer and fasting could be maintained.

However, it was not until 1952, that an act of congress established an annual event. The bill was signed by President Truman, and has been in effect ever since.

It was during President Reagan’s term that it became an annual event, to take place on the first Thursday in May. Since that time, it has been celebrated every year.

This day is not mandatory, and it is not only for Christians – people of all faiths are encouraged to pray on this day. The time is set aside for people to come together to pray for the good of the nation and the good of the world. Most congregations and Christians pray for these things daily or weekly, but this time is set aside to pray all together.

Each year there is a committee, named the National Day of Prayer Task Force, that puts together a theme for all of the Christian churches that want to participate in this unified time of prayer. This year, the theme is, “So that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:6.

It is part of Paul’s dialogue to the people of Rome about the necessity of unity between God’s people. Paul writes, “We who are strong ought to put up with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Each of us must put our neighbor from the good purpose of building up the neighbor. For Christ did not please himself; but as it is written, ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.’

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction so that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scripture we might have hope. May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 15:1-6.

Both Paul’s message and the National Day of Prayer’s message seem to be of us being there for one another and putting up with another because God first put up with us.

As a ministerial, we are hosting a National Day of Prayer service at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 1 at Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cokato, hosted by many of the local pastors, as we pray together for Christian unity and for the needs of the world. We hope you are able to participate, but if not, please remember your brothers and sisters around the word in your prayers that day as we, together with people from all parts of our nation, pray together for the good of all.

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