Celebrate a National Day of Prayer
President Bush has declared Friday, Sept. 16 to be a National Day of Prayer for everyone involved in Hurricane Katrina. This presidential proclamation is important as hopefully all believers in every religion will spend some time on Friday in focused prayer. We have responded with money; we continue to respond with volunteers and aid; we need to lift our hearts and voices to God.
In Paul’s letter to the church at Thessalonica, he encourages the church to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess. 5:17). Friday should be one of those days. We should intentionally pray all day. On paper, that exhortation sounds powerful and wonderful. In reality, though, praying without ceasing is risky.
“If I pray all day, I’ll get nothing done and I’ll lose my job.”
“I pray with my eyes closed. If I pray while I drive, I’ll wreck the car!”
“The only prayer I know is ‘Now I lay me down to sleep…’”
As we observe this National Day of Prayer together, let me offer some suggestions to help you pray without ceasing.
Light a candle at all three meals. Every time you sit to eat a meal, light a candle as a reminder of Katrina. Invite God to share your meal with you. As you eat, pray for the families who have been displaced. Pray for the recovery workers, the volunteers, and the military. Pray that the donations will be dispersed quickly and effectively. Pray that God might show you haw you can take a more active role in the recovery and clean-up efforts.
Pray with your children. Before your children go to school, gather them together and explain the importance of the day and the importance of praying together. Jesus says in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.” Pray for the children affected by the storm. Say simple sentence prayers to God. Each person gets the chance to pray.
Pray with your co-workers. Gather your co-workers together during coffee break or at lunch. Talk about how Katrina has affected each of you. Share your worst-image stories from the news and the best-image stories. Pray for your neighbors who do not have an office anymore. Pray for everyone who has lost their job because of Katrina.
Pray when you look at your watch or clock. Every time you look at your watch or you check to see what time it is, pray for the volunteers working against time to take care of people with incredible needs.
Pray with your eyes open in the car—with the radio turned off. As you drive around town, pray for the deliveries of food, water, ice, clothes, cleaning supplies, diapers, and all the other necessities we too often take for granted. Pray for quick and safe deliveries.
Write your prayer and read it at different times throughout the day. As you begin your day, take a piece of paper or turn your computer on and write a prayer. Go back and read your prayer throughout the day.
Say a simple sentence prayer over and over. Our prayers do not have to be long. They can be short sentences. Think of a short sentence you can pray over and over throughout the day. “God, may your grace and peace be felt throughout the gulf basin.”
Do something different if you already have a structured prayer time. Do not do the “same old, same old” on Friday. Make Friday a different day of prayer for you.
Pray one of the Psalms. Open your Bible to the Book of Psalms and find one you can read throughout the day. God back to it often and let the words flow over you as you read them as a prayer. Some possible suggestions are Psalms 23, 29, 30, 34, 40; or you may have a favorite Psalm you can already recite.
Regardless of how you pray on Friday, Sept. 16, pray. Make the time and take the time to have a conversation with God. Tell God how you feel about Hurricane Katrina. Ask God to help those in need and those serving. Listen to what God might be telling you to do.