There were some rumors last month that President Obama was cancelling the annual “National Day of Prayer.” But those rumors turned out to be untrue. On April 30, President Obama declared May 6 the “National Day of Prayer” by presidential proclamation. In his own words:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim May 6, 2010, as a National Day of Prayer.Â I call upon the citizens of our Nation to pray, or otherwise give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I invite all people of faith to join me in asking for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection as we meet the challenges before us.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.
You can read the rest of the proclamation here. That being said, the President will not be holding any public observances as his predecessor did, though Obama’s press secretary says that the President will be praying privately (read here).
As a Christian historian, I find the National Day of Prayer problematic. It’s a modern-day manifestation of civic religion, and the main purpose of civic religion is to promote patriotic feelings.
Of course Obama can’t do away with the tradition, like he should. The “Christian” right would hyperventilate. Unfortunately, too many Americans follow a red-white-and-blue Jesus, instead of the Jesus of the Bible.
Obama is in the right on this one. Government shouldn’t pretend to be the church.
Obama can’t be “right” in your eyes, Collin, since he issued the proclamation and is appealing the ruling in Wisconsin. Second, it may be that some distort the call to prayer in a civil religion way, but it certainly does not have to be that way. Lincoln’s original call to prayer was a call to repentence and confession of our sins. I have been in DC many times for NDOP. Some expressions made me uncomfortable, but many many believers simply come to pray for a work of grace in our land, for revival and harvest, for renewal and reformation. Your analysis is unkind in that is lumps everyone together and assumes “unbiblical” without any proof.
Collin’s on to something about this thing taking on the tone of civil religion, particularly at small town gatherings.
In my readings of the Bible I cannot remember a time when God told people not to pray.
Sure if they’re unregenerate, which most of America is, He doesn’t even hear their prayers – but do you really think that a nationwide call to prayer for Christians is a bad thing? Really?
I seem to recall quite a few calls to prayer throughout the Bible, even issued by rulers. Perhaps they were doing God a disservice?