Thursday was the annual National Day of Prayer celebrated in thousands of communities around the country.
The National Day of Prayer became law in 1952 under President Harry Truman following a six-week crusade in the nation’s capital led by Rev. Billy Graham. Members of the House and Senate then introduced a joint resolution for an annual National Day of Prayer, “on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.” President Reagan was the one who made the first Thursday of May as the day Americans would commemorate the NDP.
Whenever this day rolls around on the calendar you inevitably have some critics who have a problem with the government getting involved in supporting religion in any way. It particularly bothers them when the Christian faith is honored, even though it is the Christian faith which has made more positive contributions to our American way of life than has any other religion.
But just once – just one time – I would like to hear a president of the United States ask Americans to bless God instead of asking God to bless America. It would go something like this: “My fellow citizens, I call on you to honor God with your attitudes and actions, repent of your sins and humble yourself before the Almighty.”
Presidents use to do this.
Although I always appreciate hearing any acknowledgement of God by our president, I sometimes wonder if we are being presumptuous on the Lord to ask Him to bless our country while not calling on the people receiving the blessing to live for the Lord.
In 1798 President John Adams signed a proclamation calling Americans to a “day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer.” In other words, he was calling on his fellow countrymen to do something to get God’s attention, to get His blessing on our land.
In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln did his best Billy Graham when he issued a proclamation that read: “Whereas, the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and of nations, has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation.
“And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
Can you believe the gall of President Lincoln? Calling on people to display “genuine repentance” and being so exclusionary as to expect them to follow the “Holy Scriptures”?
On the occasion of the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt led the American people in prayer on national radio: “Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”
“Our religion”? It was understood FDR was talking about Christianity. You would never hear a president say that today. He would be called a bigot for leaving out all religions.
In June 16, 1983, President Reagan said: “We Americans are blessed in so many ways. We’re a nation under God, a living and loving God. But Thomas Jefferson warned us, ‘I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just.’ We cannot expect Him to protect us in a crisis if we turn away from Him in our every day living. But you know, He told us what to do in II Chronicles. Let us reach out to Him. He said, ‘If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.’ ”
Look around the world, where Christianity is the dominant religion you will find more freedom, liberty and respect for basic human rights. That is because Christianity teaches charity, love and respect for your fellow man above all other religions. It teaches there is value to each human life. Even the secularists and atheists among us should hope that Christianity continues to have a strong and vibrant influence on American culture. While we can allow for freedom of religion in our country, we should not buy into the popular idea that all religions are the same. They are not.
Tim Wildmon is a community columnist who resides in Baldwyn. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NEMS Daily Journal