A Multi-Faith National Day of Prayer?

Today, the following email was forwarded to me:

Merry Meet,

The National Day of Prayer is this Thursday May 1st. Our Coven has been watching and listening to the media on this and we decided to organize a group prayer meet to create positive change in our country though our Pagan perspective. This is also to enhance the day of prayer as Pagans and to show our faith and religious morals since many right wing groups want to make this a Christian day of prayer only.

If anyone would like to join us our group and others from our area will be at the Ontario County Court House, (27 North Main Street, Canandaigua, New York 14424) May 1st, ironically Beltane, at 7PM. Please bring a friend and a self contained candle to light as we silently pray for our country and for positive change. Signs are welcome so long as they are relevant to the topics of the day and are not vulgar or inflammatory to other religious groups.

Parking in the back of the court house is free and plentiful.

We look forward to coming together as a community and be counted as part of the solution.

Blessed be,

Shelly O’Brien and Heidi Gleber
High Priestesses- Coven of the Sacred Pentacle
Local Coordinators Fingerlakes Pagan Pride

First, let me say that for those who are close enough to the Canandaigua area to participate and are inclined to do so, I would highly encourage you. I suspect that this could be a great experience for many people.

I have to admit, however, that a National Day of Prayer makes little sense to me. To be honest, I tend to think of prayer — even corporate prayer — as a deeply personal thing. The idea of setting aside a “special” day to honor it and practice this spiritual discipline in a highly visible manner seems a bit odd and foreign to me. (I also tend to wonder how Christians in particular reconcile the National Day of Prayer
with Christ’s exhortations against “public religiosity,” which even address prayer specifically.) Personally, I don’t think I would feel comfortable participating in such an event because of how I see prayer, though I support everyone who feels differently and honor their right and choice to participate.

I also wonder if we might want to be careful about setting up religiously segregated prayer groups for the National Day of Prayer, as well. If we are to take a day to celebrate prayer as a nation, it seems that we should do so as a nation rather than as separate groups within the nation.

Now, I realize that not every Christian, Jew, or Muslim would be willing to pray alongside Pagans. (Heck, some of them are quite unwilling to pray alongside certain members of their own faith!) But some of them are, and it seems like it would be wise to use this opportunity to build such bridges. I think a group of people from radically different faith groups praying together would be a far better statement — not to mention a powerful act — than splintered groups of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Pagans, and other faiths doing their own thing.

Who knows? Maybe that’ll be part of next year’s National Day of Prayer events. To the folks gathering to pray in Canandaigua, I wish you the best with your gathering this weekend.

One thought on “A Multi-Faith National Day of Prayer?”

  1. (Cough) I think it is used to give James Dobson a day all his own. (/sarcasm)

    Seriously, didn’t I read something about this at Jason P-W’s blog…I can’t remember now…anyhow…it drives me crazy that NDP is evangelical-dominated.

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