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Jay Greeson

Today, for the 65th time, is the National Day of Prayer.

Since 1988, it has been the first Thursday in May. You can make the argument that it should be the first thing of every morning, but that's aiming high.

Prayer is like praise for others and personal practice. You can always do a little more, and certainly do it better.

The spiritual pipe dream aside, today's annual religious pause around noon brings a unique opportunity. Amid the very public tug of war about bathrooms and grandstanding politicians trying to impress voters with religious state books, the need for faith has never been greater.

Faith in our religions, faith in our relationships and faith in ourselves. In fact, this year's national day comes at a perfect time.

"Wake up, America" is this year's theme, and it's overwhelmingly appropriate.

It's fitting on a political scale as we look to a choice between the lesser of two evils come November.

It's fitting on the scale of national pride as we wonder how we are better today as a country than we were a generation ago.

(Yes, we technologically are light years ahead, but with every passing wave of connectivity we are becoming less connected. With every set of eyes scrolling a news feed streaming on a smart phone at restaurants, we are forever logged in and always checked out of personal relationships.)

Today's National Day of Prayer theme is also fitting in where we are individually.

Think of it this way: Add one letter to the message and consider the monumental potential and message.

As much as "Wake up, America," let's ponder "Wake up, American."

We have eschewed personal responsibility for far too long. We are quick to blame and ever quicker to find excuses.

We far too often criticize the losers rather than celebrate the winners. Our focus has become about finding the way out rather than the way up.

Prayer at its core has always been about lifting a message to heaven. Those hopes and dreams go up while we hope for His grace to come down.

There is far too little lifting being done in our society, physically, emotionally or spiritually.

So while a big part of our country pauses at noon today to observe this 65th annual observance, the power of that one letter can be substantial. That one letter can redirect the purpose and the passion of one person, who then could potentially lift another and maybe another to start a chain reaction of societal support.

And if that one letter shows us the possibilities on this great day of prayer, there is another grammatical sleight of hand to consider.

Think of the first word of today's message: wake. As a verb it means to arise from slumber, something a lot of us pray our nation will do sooner rather than later.

But as a noun, wake is a ceremonial watch over a dead body.

It's a powerful difference.

Of course, there's another definition of wake, too. It's the ripples of waves left behind a moving watercraft, and depending on the power of the vessel, it can be a very powerful force.

And we need that more than ever.

Amen.

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com. His "Right to the Point" column runs on A2 on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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