Dear Friend of Israel,
Thursday, May 4, is the National Day of Prayer, a time for Americans of all faiths to join together to pray for God’s blessing on the nation and the world. This event was established in 1952 by a joint resolution of Congress.
Today, the place of religion in our public life is a subject of debate. This debate can be healthy and invigorating; in a country where free speech is valued, ideas are constantly being put to the test and beliefs held up to close scrutiny. This is one of the cornerstones of democracy, and acts as a check against governmental abuse of power and religious discrimination.
Yet, from the founding of the U.S., the government has not been hostile to public displays of faith. The public record – including the words of some of our greatest elected officials – reveals just the opposite.
The examples are too many to ignore: George Washington in 1795 spoke of the duty of citizens “to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experience.” During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling on Americans to observe a day of fasting and prayer. On D-Day, President Franklin Roosevelt read a prayer during a radio address asking God to help the nation “rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.” In 1980, Ronald Reagan urged Americans to “seek Divine guidance in the policies of their government and the promulgation of their laws.”
Time and again those who have held the highest office of our government have publicly recognized that faith and prayer are part of our duties as citizens, and their duties as elected officials. The National Day of Prayer acknowledges this fundamental truth.
I am reminded of the words of another of America’s founders, Benjamin Franklin, who in 1787 reminded his countrymen that at the outbreak of the Revolutionary War “we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered . . . do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?”
Today – and every day – let us appeal for God’s assistance in securing health and safety for both the U.S. and Israel, and pray for the day when God will bless our nations, and the entire world, with His most precious gift of shalom, peace.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
P.S. At The Fellowship, we believe strongly in the power of prayer. Please take a moment today to visit our prayer resources page, where you can join our Fellowship Prayer Team, record a prayer for Israel, and more.