A Day of Prayer & Gratitude: The First Thursday in May... and Everyday

A Day of Prayer & Gratitude: The First Thursday in May... and EverydayIn 1952, a bill proclaiming an annual National Day of Prayer (NDP) was unanimously passed by both houses of congress. President Truman signed it into law. Then in 1988, a bill was introduced to Congress which fixed the annual National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.

What Is Prayer?

We've been raised to think of prayer as kneeling down (at least in my case) and making a supplication to God: Please God give me this, or Please God, make aunt Martha get better, or Please God, can I have a new car (fuel-efficient would be good). And then we go on our way, waiting for the answer to our prayers to land on our doorstep. An of course, we sometimes complain when we don't get what we asked for.

However, what we may be failing to realize is that each and every moment of our lives, and each and every thought we have is a prayer. The prayer is not only the moment we are kneeling (or whatever) in prayer. The prayer is not only when we are communing silently or out loud with our Creator. Every time we say, I never seem to get this right, or I'm having another bad day, or I'm so grateful to be alive... these are all prayers.

I like to think of the Universe (aka God, etc) as a big YES. In other words, just like a loving parent or loving Creator, It wants us to be happy, so it says YES to whatever we want.... or whatever we say. So when we say, I just don't have much energy, the Universe says YES, and we get more of the same (less energy). Or if we say, I'm always late, It says YES, and we're invariably late, again.

Watch That Thought!

So when we start to see that everything we say, think, or believe is a statement sent right out there for the Big Kahuna to respond "YES", we become very conscious of our thoughts and statements. It's especially important to be cautious when using the terms "always" and "never". Those are like standing orders for the same thing to keep repeating itself. I make it a point to always use "always" for wonderful things only. In other words, it's great to say: "Things always work out for the best" as this is a statement for which we want a big resounding and repeated YES.

Ask your subconscious to notify you anytime you use the words "always" and "never" so that you can make sure that the "prayer" you're sending out to the Universe is indeed the one you want to send. If it is not, I like to say "cancel" and restate my intention or desire. You can also rephrase your sentence and say "sometimes", or "in the past" instead of "always" when referring to something "negative" or undesired. At least this keeps it in the realm of what has already happened, and not what is coming your way.

It's All Prayer

Our whole life is a prayer, or as the online Webster dictionary defines it: "an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought". Which explains why we sometimes don't get what we "officially" pray for, because once we're off our knees, our words and thoughts are bouncing around negating the possibility of what we've asked for.

As an example: How many times have you asked to win the lottery? But if you're honest with yourself, you will see that the thoughts you have throughout the day do not support your winning the lottery. If your thoughts are: I'm always broke, I never have enough... Well, you get the picture. Since the Universe say YES to whatever you are "emitting" into the ethers, then those thoughts will stop you from winning the lottery (or whatever other goal you have set).

The National Day of Prayer

In 1952, a bill proclaiming an annual National Day of Prayer (NDP) was unanimously passed by both houses of congress. President Truman signed it into law. Then in 1988, a bill was introduced to Congress which fixed the annual National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.

President Reagan signed it into law on May 5th, 1988. He commented: "On our National Day of Prayer, then, we join together as people of many faiths to petition God to show us His mercy and His love, to heal our weariness and uphold our hope, that we might live ever mindful of His justice and thankful for His blessing."

In 1993, President Clinton wrote: "Through prayer our people take a moment away from the concerns of everyday life to understand the greater power that gives us guidance.  We come together in an act common to all religions." In 1994, he wrote "I encourage the citizens of this great Nation to gather, each in his or her own manner, to recognize our blessings, acknowledge our wrongs, to remember the needy, to seek guidance for our challenging future, and to give thanks for the abundance we have enjoyed throughout our history." In 1997, "...let us uphold the tradition of observing a day in which every American, in his or her own way, may come before God seeking increased peace, guidance, and wisdom for the challenges ahead."

Something I found especially interesting in the above presidential statements is the presence of what I consider the essence of prayer - seeking wisdom and guidance and also expressing gratitude for our blessings.

Just as an aside -- a U.S. District Court judge has ruled that a nationally "enforced" day of prayer is unconstitutional. In other words, the government cannot mandate us, or force us, to have a day of prayer. We are all free to do so, or not.

The Best Prayer: Gratitude

The Day of Prayer falls for me a bit in the same category as Thanksgiving Day. The reason I compare the Day of Prayer to the Day of Thanksgiving, is that these are two things that should not be relegated to one day only. And of course I know they are not, but perhaps the Day of Prayer as well as Thanksgiving can serve as reminders for us that our whole life is a prayer and an act of thanks-giving. And if it is not, then maybe we need to consider making it that way.

Which brings me to another point. What is the best prayer? Gratitude! A heart full of gratitude for what we've received, what we have, and what is coming our way. Thanksgiving is not only for that one day in the autumn when traditionally we are thankful for the harvest. Thanks-giving and being grateful is for every day, every moment, every thought.

And in the same way, the Day of Prayer is not just on this first Thursday of May, but it is in every breath we take and every move we make. We are constantly praying whether we are conscious of it or not. When we mutter under our breath, "I don't think this will work", that's a prayer. When we say, "wow, that turned out great!", that's a prayer also.

I know that realistically it's difficult to have each thought be one of gratitude. But the important thing is that when we find our thoughts heading the other direction, we say CANCEL, and replace those negative thoughts with thoughts of gratitude... for whatever we can think of. Even if it's that we are alive, or that we have a roof over our head, that we had something to eat today, or that it's sunny outside. Anything! Gratitude is a feeling and when you're sending out that energy, then it reverberates in the Universe, which then says YES, and you get more things to be grateful for.

A Daily Prayer or Mantra

I read a great affirmation in a book entitled: Making Miracles, and this thought has become my new mantra:

I don't know what going to happen, but I KNOW it's going to be GREAT!

So let this be our new prayer:

I don't know what's going to happen, but I KNOW it's going to be GREAT! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Love, Love, Love!

Related Book

(The affirmation mentioned at the end of this article is taken from this book):

Making Miracles -- Creating New Realities for Your Life and Our World
(previously released as: Holding a Butterfly — An Experiment in Miracle-Making)
by Lynn Woodland.

Making Miracles -- Creating New Realities for Your Life and Our World (previously released as: Holding a Butterfly — An Experiment in Miracle-Making) by Lynn Woodland.This is a book about consciousness, time, quantum science, and God, all woven into a series of practical, personal experiments in miracle-making. It goes far beyond current teachings of the law of attraction and will sweep readers up in a collaborative experiment that pushes all the boundaries of human potential.

Click here for more info and/or to order the new edition of this book

About The Author

Marie T. Russell is the founder of InnerSelf Magazine (founded 1985). She also produced and hosted a weekly South Florida radio broadcast, Inner Power, from 1992-1995 which focused on themes such as self-esteem, personal growth, and well-being. Her articles focus on transformation and reconnecting with our own inner source of joy and creativity.

Creative Commons 3.0: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Attribute the author: Marie T. Russell, InnerSelf.com. Link back to the article: This article originally appeared on InnerSelf.com

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