For any believer in any faith prayer comes as a matter of priority to communicate with God and seek his face and his favour, blessing and guidance.
Among Catholics there is a tradition of early morning mass everyday for Christians who want to start the day with prayer for inspiration and guidance.
Therefore a national day of prayer does not pose any special challenge because it extends the prayer for supplication beyond the individual to a national cause.
Many great leaders in the free world and particularly the greatest democracy on earth the United States of America have called for national prayers in time of need but have now consolidated the first Thursday of May each year as a national day of prayer.
The United States Congress has designated this day as a national day of prayer when people are asked, “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”. The president signs a proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray.
The law of formalizing this day was enacted in 1952 although it dates back to 1775. But along the way Presidents have been issuing annual or special occasion proclamations for national days of prayer.
In 2011 the constitutionality of the national day of prayer was unsuccessfully challenged in court by the Freedom from Religion Foundation. They lost the case and the day has remained enshrined on the USA calendar.
From experience this day is observed by all religions in America including Christians, Sikhs, Moslems, Hindus and Jews.
On this day Americans assemble in prayer in front of court houses, churches, mosques, synagogues and temples to pray and seek the face of God.
It is therefore surprising that a day of prayer in Zambia should come under such scrutiny when this country has been declared a Christian nation to which prayer, repentance and worship should be a matter of course.
A national day of prayer is a unique pronouncement for our country, but certainly not new in history or contemporary experience.
Many countries have gone to prayer when confronted with problems over which they seek divine intervention.
Next Sunday October 18 2015 marks a special day in the life of our country when all Zambians regardless of religious affiliation are called to prayer to seek God’s face and guidance for reconciliation and forgiveness.
Prayer in any form is an act of humility, supplication and repentance for omissions and commissions, words said and unsaid and for acts intended to injure or harm.
In prayer the country will seek to introspect and seek divine intervention, support and guidance in the next phase of our national development given the tremendous set back we have suffered as a result of commodity prices slide, currency depreciation which have created circumstances for economic recession.
We must seek answers that enjoin synergy, cooperation and joint effort to rise above mere finger pointing, blame making and wishful thinking to a level where we shall confront problems as a nation for indeed it is not possible for the government on its own or political parties on their own or indeed non-governmental organizations on their own to search and find solutions for the myriad of problems that we face.
In the common denominator of a shared value in prayer, the nation should talk to itself to find practical, creative and above all workable solutions.
That’s why we hope that in their homilies the issue of national unity, forgiveness and tolerance will be uppermost.