The National Day of Prayer is an annual observance held on the first Thursday of May, inviting people of all faiths to pray for our nation. This year, the Durango prayer event will be held at noon Thursday at Rotary Park.
This nationally recognized day was created by Congress in 1952, and the specific day was chosen and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988. Each year, a theme is chosen, and a prayer proclamation is signed by the president and the governors of each state.
This year, it is estimated that more than 2 million people will attend more than 30,000 observances around the country. The theme is “unity” and is taken from the Bible verse in Ephesians 4:3, which says: “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together people from all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds. It is a call to all Americans to humbly come before God, seeking his guidance for our leaders and for his grace upon the people.
No matter our political affiliation or spiritual beliefs, we can all agree that we as a people have become divided and polarized, and we need healing in our land. As the late Martin Luther King Jr. said, “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” This day is a time to turn away from the things that divide us and ask God to give each one of us the desire and courage to do our part to bring unity and harmony back to our great country.
Here in Durango, we are blessed with a community of people who love to volunteer and churches that work together in unity in so many ways. One of the most exciting church/community efforts began with one church in 2010 but today involves six different churches and more than 300 volunteers that do about 40 service projects each June. The event is called “Love Out Loud.”
Some of the projects include working on a Habitat for Humanity home, making sleeping mats for the homeless, building solar lights for the Navajo Nation, writing letters of thanks and encouragement to our military and government officials, helping improve local schools with building and landscaping projects and numerous other individual home improvement projects for people in need, such as the elderly.
In addition, local churches serve our community year-round by working together through youth and college ministries, which serve upward of 250 students every week, offering suicide prevention training and counseling, jail ministry, addiction recovery groups, a monthly outreach to the disabled and day care assistance to more than 135 families each day.
Almost every church has money available through member donations for food, gas and temporary lodging for anyone in need.
In the Gospel of St. John, Jesus gives us two simple commands: “Love the Lord thy God and love your neighbor as yourself.” As we search for answers to the many complex issues of our day, may we work together in unity to share Christ’s love to those around us.
Psalm 133:1 says: “How good and pleasant it is when our brothers live together in harmony.” May it be so in our nation and our community.
Sherry Keil is a member of the National Day of Prayer committee in Durango.