To the Editor:
On May 3, this nation will recognize the 61st annual Day of Prayer. We will observe it locally from 7-9 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus Hall.
In 1776, the Continental Congress regularly called for prayer in its deliberations as this nation was being born. Strong, unyielding and opposing philosophies were hotly debated. Benjamin Franklin made an appeal for prayer stating, "I see this truth, that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire could rise without His aid? ... I beg leave to move that hence forth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven and its blessing on our deliberations be held in this Assembly every morning."
Prayer was then offered every morning before deliberations. Breakthrough agreement came. The foundational structure of our government and its balance of powers through three branches came from Isaiah 33:22, "the Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our Ruler, the Lord is our King."
National Days of Prayer have been part of our rich heritage, with earlier presidents making it a day of their own choosing. President Harry Truman in 1952 signed a joint resolution of Congress establishing an annual National Day of Prayer. In 1988, President Ronald Regan and Congress amended the law to designate the first Thursday of every May to be an annual observance.
Each year, national, state and local leaders sign proclamations encouraging all Americans to pray. The intent is to encourage all people of all faiths to pray, and to follow our founding fathers example of seeking wisdom from God.
The First Amendment added to our Constitution in 1791 states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances." No other country allows people of all faiths to have such "asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship." (Patrick Henry, governor of Virginia and legislator, 1790).
I am part of a volunteer coordinating network that organizes local, state and federal observances across the nation. These observances begin at sunrise in Maine and continue through the day until sunset in Hawaii.
This year, our local National Day of Prayer emphasis will be family issues, and the proposed Minnesota Marriage Amendment that will be on the ballot in November. Teresa Collett, law professor from St. Thomas University, will speak and answer questions on the legal implications of this amendment. Please join us 7-9 p.m. May 3 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.