Advancing Religious Liberty
5/1/12 at 07:07 PM 11 Comments

Protecting the National Day of Prayer by Celebrating the National Day of Prayer

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Author: ADF Senior Legal Counsel Joel Oster

On Thursday, May 3, 2012, teachers, electricians, athletes, public officials, mothers, bankers, doctors, and indeed Christians from all walks of life will be seeking the face of God. On this 61st annual observance of the National Day of Prayer, Americans across this nation will join the millions who have done so before, and will seek His guidance, His blessings and His will for our nation.

We at the Alliance Defense Fund encourage you to join with us, and the many others, in seeking Him on this special day.

Having a national day of fasting and prayer is as much a part of our national landscape as voting booths and majestic mountain peaks. In 1775, the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming this infant nation. In George Washington’s very first address as president, so indeed the first every address by any president to this nation, he called this nation to a day of prayer. The call to prayer has continued throughout our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863.

In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, continued this tradition and declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, setting first Thursday of every May as the National Day of Prayer.

According to the National Day of Prayer Task Force, lead by Shirley Dobson, “The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people. The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.”

Unfortunately, this day has come under legal attack in recent times. Not everyone is proud of our religious heritage, and some wish to delete this day from our history books. A few years ago, the Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a federal lawsuit seeking to strike down the National Day of Prayer. Unfortunately, the United States District Court for the District of Wisconsin obliged, and struck down the National Day of Prayer.

We at the Alliance Defense Fund defended the National Day of Prayer Task Force in this case, and argued that the practice of calling the nation to a day of prayer has been occurring since the country’s inception. How can calling the nation to prayer, a practice that was going on at the very time the constitution was drafted and ratified, and has continued to this day, be unconstitutional? Fortunately, the Seventh Circuit Court of appeals agreed with us, and reversed the District Court and we today still are able to observe a national day of praying.

If you are interested in protecting the National Day of Prayer, if you are concerned about the future of our nation, then the best way to protect the National Day of Prayer is to participate in the National Day of Prayer. So we invite you to find an event near you,, or if one is not close, then by yourself or with another, join in the chorus of prayers this Thursday and let’s together seek His will for America.

This post originally appeared here.

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