Gearing up for the National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer (NDP)  is coming up in a few weeks – Thursday, May 7th to be exact.

There’s always some confusion around the NDP.  In a country with separation of church and state, why do we have a government-sanctioned day of prayer?  What is the Christian-oriented National Day of Prayer Task Force – is the government endorsing Christianity?  Is the government discriminating against atheists and agnostics?

Read through our brief FAQ for some answers.  And if you, your organization or your community wants to observe the day in an inclusive way, consider a few ground rules…

Make it voluntary.  The government doesn’t require every citizen to observe the National Day of Prayer, and you shouldn’t require it of your students or employees.  The NDP was explicitly created as a day for people to pray according to their own beliefs and consciences and, for some people, that means not praying at all.

Make it broad.  The day is technically called the “National Day of Prayer,” but that doesn’t mean you have to observe it with prayer.  Try a moment of silence.  Still not inclusive enough? Organize a service or charitable event.

Make it yours.  Creating an inclusive event is half about the event, half about the framing.  Once you’ve pinned down how, exactly, you’re going to celebrate the day, make it your own with your own inclusive messaging:  “Widget Corporation’s Day of Service and Reflection is a time for us to meditate on our individual beliefs while supporting the community.”

Have you ever planned an event?  Attended one?  What was your experience like?  Have more ideas, or your tips to share?  Leave a comment – let’s learn from one another.


2 Responses to “Gearing up for the National Day of Prayer”

  1. Professor Goodman Says:

    Yikes! I’ve never heard of this and it feels totally inappropriate for the USA. Why does “prayer”, for those to whom it is important, require a “day”? Shouldn’t it be every day…or whenever the mood/need strikes?

    I thought “National Days” were reserved for antique cars, baby rabbits, and the woodworkers’ guild…you know, things that no one would pay attention to unless they were called out.

    Does prayer fall into that category?! Oh no…

  2. Michelle, Communications Says:

    Your raise good a good point in your first paragraph; that’s very much the argument that those challenging the day use. Still, the ways religion permeates our national culture is undeniable – Presidential speeches almost always end with “God Bless America;” sessions of Congress open with invocations, etc. As we understand it, National Day or Prayer is the government’s attempt to recognize the historic role that prayer has played in public life.

    That being said, the National Day of Prayer is no more compulsory for anyone than the National Day of Baby Rabbits – you’re not required to pray, and I’m not required to admire your bunnies.

    We don’t take a position on the appropriateness of the Day either way – we just want to help people/organizations who do choose to observe it be as inclusive as possible.

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