This year's National Day of Prayer takes place around our nation on May 5. It is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, which invites people of all faiths to pray for the nation. It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The theme of this year's observance is Wake up America and the Scripture is from Isaiah 58 1a, "Shout it aloud, do not hold back, raise your voice like a trumpet!"
These are trying times in America and around the world. It is a violent world we are living in, so many are being innocently killed because they are Christians. Many of us hear our families and friends talking about how we are going backwards as a nation and as a people. There are so many young people whom we know who have died from overdoses of drugs and many more who we know that suffer from depression or anxiety. All of this can make all of us feel depressed. Thanks to the Risen Lord we have faith which gives us hope and motivates us to keep moving forward. We also believe in the power of prayer.
Isaiah 58 challenges us to look at how we are praying, fasting and sacrificing. Are we really doing it for the Lord or for ourselves? What are we praying and fasting for? Later in Scripture it goes on to say what we need to do in order for our prayers to be heard by the Lord. "This is the fasting I wish, releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; Setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; Clothing the naked when you see them and not turning your back on your own...Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer (Isaiah 58:5-7, 9).
It is a call to action on our parts. Yes, it is important to pray but, it is equally important to be about the work of the Lord. It may be that the Lord is calling you to join in on this National Day of Prayer, but don't let it stop there. May it be a wakeup call to join hands in the work needed to make our city a better place.
The National Day of Prayer observance has taken place for more than 20 years and millions of people of different faiths have joined together to raise their voices in prayer for our nation. This year's theme "America to Wake Up" gives us all the opportunity to pray. We are asked to raise our voice like a trumpet to our Lord. In the Diocese of Buffalo, one of the places to gather with others and participate is Niagara Square in downtown Buffalo. We call it the Prayer in the Square. It will take place on May 5, from noon until 1 p.m. We are all invited to join together with people of other faith to pray for Western New York and for our nation.
The National Day of Prayer observance organizers ask that we pray for the following areas, our government, for education, for our businesses, for media, for our families, for the military and for our churches. If you are not able to join others at the observance in Niagara Square, take time personally to pray in your home, your church or your workplace.