“For the people of India struggling with the coronavirus, God please give your protection and care to them. For everyone who took exams this week and everyone who takes them in the coming weeks, may good fortune be with you. And for international travelers stuck in foreign countries, God please help them return home safely and with good health.” - Payson Brugge, Class of 2024
For seventy years now, the first Thursday in May has been designated as the National Day of Prayer. This all began in 1952, with President Harry S. Truman and the U.S. Congress signing a joint resolution to make this day official. Since then, various religious traditions and faith expressions across the nation have set aside time on that day to be united in prayer. Below is an excerpt of the statement released
by the White House in observance of this special day.
“On this National Day of Prayer, we unite with purpose and resolve, and recommit ourselves to the core freedoms that helped define and guide our Nation from its earliest days. We celebrate our incredible good fortune that, as Americans, we can exercise our convictions freely — no matter our faith or beliefs. Let us find in our prayers, however they are delivered, the determination to overcome adversity, rise above our differences, and come together as one Nation to meet this moment in history.”
As with most observances that come around just once a year, the hope is to recalibrate, to recenter, on core principles and tenets that we hold dear. On Independence Day we remember freedom, with an eye towards more appreciation each day of the year. Same with Mother’s Day, which is coming up this weekend. We lift up our moms on this special day, but really, should be doing so each day of the year. In the same light, this week has been Teacher Appreciation Week – but really – we ought to appreciate teachers and mentors each week of the year!
Much of the same holds true with the National Day of Prayer. While we may pause to come together in prayer every first Thursday of May, we surely hope this stokes the fires of prayer for the days, weeks, and months to come. Spiritual disciplines often take the form of rituals and habits that are formed and molded with practice – over and over again. Sometimes we need a designated day to bring us back to the heart of the matter; to get our attention in the midst of the busy-ness of life.
One of the joys of my ministry here at Berkeley is the opportunity to coach Middle Division baseball. Our season just came to a close a couple of weeks ago, and I recall a bit of my parting words to the boys. I told them that the offseason is the golden time to really work on their craft. With hitting, they must pick up the bat, each and every day, and swing and swing and swing. And, over time, the swing becomes more natural and fluid, setting them up for greater success at the plate. I also mentioned that it would be clear come tryouts next year, who was faithful to this discipline.
National Day of Prayer encourages us to pick up the bat. Take a few swings, but do it again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after.
The prayer at the beginning of this post was written by Payson Brugge, Class of 2024, and a leader of our Friday Morning Prayer team. My hope is that his words, along with the National Day of Prayer, with spur us all on to more swings.