Thursday, May 7, 2020

The National Day of Prayer: We Pray for Children

The National Day of Prayer is an annual national observance, established into public law in 1952 and observed publicly on the first Thursday in May since 1988. Each year, people gather across our nation in local community events to pray together for America.

Today – May 7, 2020 – is this year’s National Day of Prayer. Regardless of the unprecedented challenges that our nation is facing today due to the covid-19 outbreak and resulting economic shutdown, it will not be canceled nor postponed – but will look very different from years past. The NDOP website writes that by using the use many digital platforms available, “this year’s ‘virtual’ observances have the potential to become the largest prayer gathering in U.S. history – with millions PRAYING TOGETHER, INDIVIDUALLY.”

I vividly remember the first time I helped prepare our church’s worship center for the special day. The focus was not only on America as a nation, but on individuals, families, and children. Scripture, pictures and quotes on prayer rotated across the screen with meditative music playing softly in the background. Prayer guides were placed at the entrance. It was moving to see people quietly enter throughout the day and into the evening – coming as individuals, friends, coworkers, and in family groups. This year will look quite different, but meaningful and effective nonetheless, and maybe with even more prayers than ever before reaching the Father’s ear.

Jennifer Beckstrand, one of my favorite authors, posted a poem on her blog in honor of the National Day of Prayer, and you can read her whole post here. It’s simply too moving not to share. Jennifer writes: “I can’t remember where I found this poem, but it holds special meaning for me because I know that all children are in Jesus’s tender care. I hope that this week on the National Day of Prayer, you will pray for your loved ones, your enemies, your family, and the children.”

By Ina Hughes

We pray for children
   who sneak popsicles before supper,
   who erase holes in math workbooks,
   who can never find their shoes.
And we pray, for those
   who stare at photographers from behind barbed wire,
   who can’t bound down the street in a new pair of sneakers,
   who never “counted potatoes,”
   who are born in places where we wouldn’t be caught dead,
   who never go to the circus,
   who live in an X-rated world.

We pray for children
   who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
   who sleep with the cat and bury goldfish,
   who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money,
   who squeeze toothpaste all over the sink,
   who slurp their soup.
And we pray for those
   who never get dessert,
   who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
   who watch their parents watch them die,
   who can’t find any bread to steal,
   who don’t have any rooms to clean up,
   whose pictures aren’t on anybody’s dresser,
   whose monsters are real.

We pray for children
   who spend all their allowance before Tuesday,
   who throw tantrums in the grocery store and pick at their food,
   who like ghost stories,
   who shove dirty clothes under the bed,
   and never rinse out the tub,
   who get visits from the tooth fairy,
   who don’t like to be kissed in front of the carpool,
   who squirm in church or temple and scream in the phone,
   whose tears we sometimes laugh at
   and whose smiles can make us cry.
And we pray for those
   whose nightmares come in the daytime,
   who will eat anything,
   who have never seen a dentist,
   who aren’t spoiled by anybody,
   who go to bed hungry and cry themselves to sleep,
   who live and move, but have no being.

We pray for children
   who want to be carried
   and for those who must,
   for those we never give up on
   and for those who don’t get a second chance.
   for those we smother…
   and for those who will grab the hand of anybody
   kind enough to offer it.

We pray for children. Amen

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