The National Day of Prayer was officially established as the first Thursday in May by President Harry S. Truman in 1952. However, previous presidents and leaders called for days of fasting and prayer. In 1799, John Adams called for such a day, saying,
I do hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the 25th day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer…
[T]hat He would put an end to the effusion of human blood and the accumulation of human misery among the contending nations of the earth by disposing them to justice, to equity, to benevolence, and to peace.”
I, too, have been thinking about the value of prayer at a time when there is so much to be done that it seems twenty-four hours a day are not enough to “end… the accumulation of human misery.” I remember how even Jesus took time – in the midst of healing people and being targeted by Pharisees – to step away and pray (Luke 6:12). He also told his disciples a story, “to show that they should always pray and never give up.” (Luke 18:1)
So, I ask you to join us today, May 5th, on this National Day of Prayer, in lifting up prayer on behalf of those who are in misery, those fleeing from their homes, those waiting in limbo and hoping their families will receive welcome in a safe place. Whether on your own, in your family, or with your entire congregation, join us in praying for refugees.
A Prayer for Refugees
Dear Lord Jesus, your family on earth knew the life of refugees when they fled to Egypt. Bless all who seek refuge on this earth. Meet their needs for safety and for home. Move the hearts of your people to show them welcome. Cause wars to cease and bring justice to the nations that no one will need to flee again.
In your great mercy, Lord hear our prayer.
This prayer is a part of the Welcoming Refugees bulletin insert available for your use. The prayers for children and families below are parts of those bulletin inserts. Other resources for congregational worship include bulletin inserts and litanies focusing on refugees, asylum seekers, and uprooted people.
A Prayer for Children
Dear heavenly Father, tenderly bless all vulnerable children who are journeying alone in this world. Comfort orphaned children whose parents have been taken from them by violence. Provide for refugee children who are far from home and don’t know where their families may be. Guide migrant children who take dangerous journeys to find family or opportunity. Rescue trafficked children whose freedom and innocence have been betrayed.
Protect all children who need your care, bringing them justice, safety and home.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
A Prayer for Families
Dear heavenly Father, you created us to live in families, to protect, provide for, teach and help each other. We thank you for our own families, our family of faith, and our extended families of friends and loved ones. We ask your blessing on immigrant families who are at risk and are separated. Give them wisdom and guidance, safety and shelter, protection and provision.
And bless us with the courage to accompany them in their struggles and speak out for them as they seek justice.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
Is your congregation is interested in getting more involved in the work of welcoming refugees, children, and families? Please contact Amanda Sheldon, Manager for Congregational Outreach, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410-230-2791.