Thirty years ago, the House and the Senate voted unanimously to pass a bill designating the first Thursday of every May as a National Day of Prayer – a day when Americans would turn to God and seek him in unity. President Ronald Reagan signed a proclamation creating this day.
America pines for such a display of unity as the one our leaders demonstrated back then. Not a day goes by when it doesn’t feel like our country is fraying. Anywhere you look there is division. Unanimity seems like a relic from a long-gone time when we could agree that the things we have in common are greater than our disagreements.
This is why now, more than ever before, we need to remember that in times like these prayer has been the balm to a wounded nation. Prayer has always been the space where we can come together and recover our sense of unity.
Prayer doesn’t pick sides. It transcends politics and skips over the battle lines we’ve drawn between each other. Prayer reminds us that we’re all in this together.
The National Day of Prayer is not simply a day to ask God to bless America. It’s a day to seek God and ask him to keep our United States of America united. Unity, indeed, is a blessing from God.
In signing the National Day of Prayer proclamation, President Reagan understood that the purpose for that day was unity. The proclamation states, in part:
“Let us join together, Americans all, throughout our land. Let us join together, in factories and farms, in homes and offices, in places of governance and places of worship, and in outposts everywhere that service men and women defend us. Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step – humble, heartfelt prayer.
“Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our Nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always.”
In the spirit of President Reagan’s words, let us then today join together as Americans in prayer. In one voice, let us pray for unity in our nation, for our leaders and our communities. If our history has anything to teach us, it’s that America is better when we pray together.