Sixty years ago, President Harry S. Truman declared a National Day of Prayer to be set aside for the observance of prayer.
The first Thursday of May is now recognized as National Day of Prayer. This year UVU hosted an event in honor of the day for members of all faiths.
Rabbi Benny Zippel, executive director of Chabad Lubavitch, Utah’s branch of the world’s largest Jewish outreach organization, was the keynote speaker at the event.
“We constantly are overwhelmed with materialistic burdens, selfish moods, and immoral appetites,” Zippel said. “They incessantly demand of our beastly consciousness. How does one deal with these potent forces which are seemingly much more powerful than the holy forces within us?”
He said the solution to this problem is daily prayer and communication with God.
“Lacking the daily experience of genuine prayer, we inevitably become vulnerable to the onslaught from Esau within,” Zippel said.
The themes of Thursday night’s event were the Golden Rule and the importance of prayer. Speakers of various faiths reflected on these themes.
Caru Das, president of the Utah Krishna Temple, asked the audience to examine their efforts of helping those around them.
“On this National Day of Prayer, let us think about what kind of a sermon we’re dispensing to other souls every day,” he said. “Do we give out encouragement, hope, joy, unconditional love and compassion?”
For those who feel they can’t help and encourage others because they need love and encouragement themselves, Das said the best way to help themselves is to love others.
“We’re put here to serve others. That is the purpose for which God created us,” he said.
Gene Slade, chaplain at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, said we must learn love to the extent that we can warm others even if we remain cold ourselves. He said that God is the source of such love.
“God enlarges our capacity to love. He continually empowers us to spread our love to others,” he said.
Calvin Harper, of the Eel Ground Band of the Mi’kmaq Tribe of the Once Mighty Algonquian Nation, a native American tribe, said this life is the time to give and share with others. He said at death, it not only matters how one lived his life, but what he left behind for others.
“What did you pass on?” Harper asked. “What did you teach to those who will come after you?”
When asked about importance of prayer, Matt Holland, President of UVU, said prayer is especially important for students.
“Prayer is vital for every person at every stage of life.” Holland said. “Reflection on my own life is that it is especially important as a young student. You’re at a wonderful time. It’s also a vulnerable time. You’re developing intellectually, your making choices about a career, you’re making decisions about marriage and family. You’re really at probably the most critical phase of your life in the sense that you’ve probably grown up with some kind of tradition with some kind of faith where it was encouraged, and now your at this point where you’ve gotta decide what faith you’re gonna have, what kind of life you’re gonna have. So I think prayer, regular prayer, heartfelt meaningful prayer is just so vital in that stage of life.”
Pastor Carlos Garcia, Provo Seventh-day Adventist Church, said that prayer gives people centrality and a sense of priorities.
“There’s a verse in the Bible that says, lean not on your own understanding but trust God in all your ways and he will straighten your paths,” Garcia said. “Prayer is powerful. It actually changes people’s lives, it changes attitudes, it changes dispositions, it changes your principles and it just gives you a better focus in life”