Thursday, May 13, 2010
National Day of Prayer
By BARRY BURLESON
About 40 people came together for prayer on the Marshall County courthouse lawn May 6.
They were part of a celebration across the United States - the National Day of Prayer.
Jim Burke, director of missions for the Marshall/Lafayette Baptist Association, coordinated the event locally and said it’s a tremendous privilege to be able to pray to an Almighty God.
“My favorite thing in all of life is to pray - to speak to our Heavenly Father,” he said.
The theme for the 59th celebration of the National Day of Prayer was “Prayer for Such a Time as This.”
“Think about what’s going on in our country today,” Burke said. “We need to keep on keeping on.”
He quoted Nahum 1:7 - “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble.”
He encouraged everyone to pray for government leaders, at the national, state and local levels; “to pray for our schools;” and “to pray for our military.”
“And please pray for those who do not know Jesus,” Burke said. “We need a spiritual revival.”
After Burke’s opening remarks, participants divided into small groups, joined hands and prayed.
The National Day of Prayer was established in 1952, and in 1988 was set as the first Thursday in May.
President Obama followed through on his promise to declare May 6 the National Day of Prayer despite a controversial April 15 ruling by a federal judge, who said the government encouraging its citizens to pray violates the First Amendment.
“We are blessed to live in a nation that counts freedom of conscience and free exercise of religion among its most fundamental principles, thereby ensuring that all people of goodwill may hold and practice their beliefs according to the dictates of their consciences,” he said in the April 30 proclamation declaring the day for 2010. “Prayer has been a sustaining way for many Americans of diverse faiths to express their most cherished beliefs, and thus we have long deemed it fitting and proper to publicly recognize the importance of prayer on this day across the nation.”
U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb of Wisconsin agreed with plaintiffs, who had sued to put an end to the federal government’s involvement in the event, which is marked by ceremonies both public and private around the country.
“It bears emphasizing that a conclusion that the (First Amendment’s) Establishment Clause prohibits the government from endorsing a religious exercise is not a judgment of value of prayer or the millions of Americans who believe in the power,” Crabb wrote in a 66-page opinion. “No one can doubt the important role that prayer plays in the spiritual life of a believer. However, recognizing the importance of prayer to many people does not mean that the government may enact a statute in support of it, any more than the government may encourage citizens to fast during the month of Ramadan, attend a synagogue, purify themselves in a sweat lodge or practice rune magic.”
Crabb stayed enforcement of her ruling until all appeals of it have been declared, however, Obama’s Justice Department announced April 22 that it would appeal the decision.
President Obama has chosen not to hold a service at the White House in conjunction with the National Day of Prayer. He has instead observed the day privately, according to press reports.
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