National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer

Congress has proclaimed the first Thursday in May the National Day of Prayer and this year our local clergy association decided to host our first annual service for this occasion. (The photos for this post are from the reception following.) This year the service was hosted by the synagogue.

The service was divided up into six sections, flanked by opening and closing remarks and punctuated by songs at the beginning, middle and end.

The six sections were:

• Prayer for communities of faith
• Prayer for the world
• Prayer for our nation
• Prayer for our town
• Prayer for those who protect and serve us
• Prayer for family, friends and loved ones

Each section was led by a member of our interfaith clergy association, with the exception of the section about the town which was led by our First Selectman. Each section began with “concerns for prayer,” followed by collective silent prayer, and a concluding prayer offered by the person leading that section.

I was assigned the last section, and here is what I said:

“We each know people who are struggling with fear, lack, disease, grief, loneliness, hopelessness, condemnation, prejudice, addiction, conflict, doubt and sin. Let us pray for them.

(silent prayer)

Dear Father, Mother, Love, we know you as infinite, ever-present, all-powerful and good. You “always have met and always will meet every human need.” You are caring for each of us without lapse, and we are confident you know what you are doing. Nothing is impossible to you. You are patient and kind in helping us; your generosity and faithfulness know no bounds. We do not need to plead for you to “be with us,” for you are ever at hand, closer than our next breath. So please protect us from temptation, and let us not be led astray. Heal us, and bind up our broken hearts. We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that generated them, so we turn to you, for your reliable, omnipotent help. You are constantly at work in each of our own human consciousnesses, speaking in a way that each of us can individually understand as well as act upon. We are humbly obedient to You, the Mind that has made us; we are nothing of ourselves. Help us align with You and show us how You see us: perfect, whole, joyous, loved, satisfied and free. We love you God, and we thank You, that You have heard our prayer.”

I thought the songs added a lot to the occasion. The first and last were sung by everyone, the middle was a solo. I’ve reprinted their lyrics below in case you are interested:

America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates,
Melody by Samuel Ward

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare of freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

From a Distance
(Bette Midler)

From a distance
The world looks blue and green
And the snow capped mountains white
From a distance
The ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight

From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
Its the voice of hope
Its the voice of peace
Its the voice of every man

From a distance
We all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns, no bombs and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed
From a distance
We are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope
Playing songs of peace
They are the songs of every man

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

From a distance
You look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance
I just cannot comprehend
What all this fighting’s for
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And its the hope of hopes
Its the love of loves
Its the heart of every man

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

Let There be Peace on Earth
lyrics by: Jill Jackson Miller
Music: Sy Miller

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step i take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With god as our father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.

We hope community based interfaith observances of the National Day of Prayer spread. As one of my colleagues said,“I believe there are good people everywhere. We need to all come together as children of the one Almighty God.” Another said, “to the God of a thousand names who is also called the nameless one: thank you.”

I had two interesting conversations during the reception after the service:

• A gentleman came up to me and told me, “I like the way you pray. I’ve heard you before at the Thanksgiving services too, and I liked the way you prayed then as well. I think women are better at praying. [ I was the only woman in this service.] I’m a Catholic, and I can’t wait for them to approve women as priests; I’m all for it.”
When I mentioned a movie being shown locally on May 25 – which I intend to see – called “God is Bigger than Elvis,” about a Hollywood star who became a nun, he said he had just bought tickets today.
Then I said, “ You know, the founder of my church was a woman.”
To which he instantly responded, “Oh yes, Mary Baker Eddy. She was a wonderful woman! I know all about her because an older relative of mine had a store on Huntington Avenue near that big church of yours in Boston. Mrs. Eddy came in there some and really impressed him. He talked about her with reverence the rest of his life.”

• A woman came up to me saying she was so glad I was here because she had something she wanted to tell me. She said she came to the Christian Science lecture we held last week at the museum, after seeing the banner outside the church telling about it. She had also come to another of our lectures several years ago when we held it at the Rec Center. But this time, when she got there, she just didn’t feel well enough to get out of the car, so she just sat there in the parking lot instead. “The atmosphere at your lecture was so good that I had a healing during it out there in the parking lot! I’m telling you I was healed. I really was! It was amazing.”

So here is our benediction for the evening:

“The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”
(Numbers 6:24-26)

National Day of Prayer

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