For centuries people of different religions, faiths and spiritual perspectives have made it a part of their lives to set time aside in order to focus on something that is beyond what can be seen by the human eye. Whether using the terminology of prayer, meditation, blessing or even just quiet-time, the idea of prayer is typically an acknowledgement of a higher power that is at work in the universe, whether it is believed to be “out there” or it has more of an internal presence.
National Prayer Day is one day of the year that is set aside to focus on aligning and attuning to something greater than ourselves.
History of National Prayer Day
National Prayer Day offers an opportunity for individuals, families and communities to take some extra time to reflect and pray. This holiday was established in Zambia in 2015 by President Lungu for the purpose of appealing to a higher power for help during difficult times. In the predominantly Christian nation of Zambia, National Prayer Day has become an annual observance with people making extra efforts to pray, repent, fast, and pay respect to the supremacy of a higher power. Some people refer to this day as the National Day of Prayer, Fasting, Repentance and Reconciliation.
The people of Zambia have had conflicted feelings about National Prayer Day, in part because it was established by the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs. This now-defunct office of the president of Zambia was created in the late 20th century with the purpose of promoting and developing the identity of the country as a Christian nation, a proclamation that was originally declared in 1991. However, as happens many times when politics and religion are mixed, there has been some struggle with this office and eventually it was ended in September 2021.
However, even though the office that originally created National Prayer Day has since been abolished, the majority of churches in the country still support the day itself as a positive observance. With at least 75% of the nation of Zambia aligning with the Christian faith, the church authorities still believe that taking time to pray is an effective and beneficial cause. In honor of this day, most restaurants and bars in Zambia may be closed to allow the public to spend time focusing on the importance of this day, whether praying alone at home or gathering with a group in a public space.
It may be helpful to note that National Prayer Day in Zambia is observed in October and it is different from the National Day of Prayer, which is celebrated in the United States in the month of May. It is also something unique from World Prayer Day, which is an event that is celebrated by at least 170 nations each year on the first Friday of March.
How to Celebrate National Prayer Day
Those who are looking for ideas on how to celebrate National Prayer Day might get some inspiration when they check out some of these ideas:
Consider Taking Time to Pray
One of the most basic things a person can do in honor of National Prayer Day, whether living in Zambia or some other place around the world, is to set aside a little time to pray. Of course, people from different religions and cultures may have different practices or traditions that surround what it means to pray.
From the Christian perspective, the idea of prayer has to do with talking to God and also perhaps spending time listening. This could be a conversation involving being thankful, asking for something, or simply taking time to sit in silence. Some people might prefer to lean into this style of meditation, while others might do their praying by reading written prayers or even by singing.
Others who are dedicated to their religion might choose to fast for National Prayer Day, which means they abstain from food for a period of time, allowing them to focus more on their spiritual needs than physical needs.
Join a Prayer Group
Many events in churches or in the community may be taking place in celebration of National Prayer Day, so this might be the perfect time to join one. Some people feel that getting together with other people to pray is an especially helpful and impactful practice. Those who are regularly part of a church may attend a prayer gathering they already know about, and those who are not may be able to find information online through the website of a local group.
Learn About Types of Prayers
Those who are participating with National Prayer Day are joining in with an ancient tradition that goes back thousands of years. Some ancient documents related to prayer have survived into modern times are texts that come out of the Judeo-Christian history in what Judaism calls the Torah and the Christian tradition refers to as the Old Testament of the Bible.
Many prayers from these ancient times were scripted and were often read communally in group gatherings or by families. A little online research about types of prayers may offer some interesting insight into various different ways of interacting with a God through some of these or others:
This type of prayer is simply a way that humans declare how great and amazing God is.
This is an opportunity to be grateful and say thank you for all of life’s blessings.
Those who believe in a higher power often ask for things that they need, and petition is a type of prayer where requests are made.
Similar to petition, this type of prayer focuses on asking, but asking something for other people instead of for the person who is praying.
Of course, there are other types of prayers too, but these are some of the most basic that can be found, and many written prayers from centuries past will focus on some, or all, of these ideas.