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The prayer started off normal enough, like that of any child saying grace before a meal.

“Dear Jesus, thank you for the food,” began my 4-year-old godson, Colton, his head bowed, eyes closed and hands folded.

I was at his family’s house in upstate New York, and we were about to feast on pizza and wings. I expected the prayer to end there, with a simple “amen,” but what Colton said next had me struggling not to laugh out loud.

“I pray for Mommy to get twins – a girl, or a boy, or both,” he said.

He prayed with such innocence and sincerity, that it would’ve been sinful to laugh. Still, a soft chuckle escaped my lungs before I could suppress it.

Colton’s an only child. You may have guessed.

I love listening to children pray. They do it with faith that puts most adults to shame. Some people might say kids have no filter, but I prefer to see it as them surrendering everything – no matter how big or small – to God. Whether praying for their preschool teacher’s neighbor’s cousin’s dog’s toenail (Sunday school teachers know what I’m talking about), or petitioning for a baby brother or sister (or both), children hold nothing back.

We could all learn from them.

Today, Thursday, May 2, is the National Day of Prayer (NDP), an observance established by Congress and signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1952.

Held annually on the first Thursday of May, the National Day of Prayer invites “people of all faiths to pray for the nation,” with a mission to “mobilize unified public prayer for America,” according to

nationaldayofprayer.org, the website of a privately funded NDP task force.

The organization’s theme for this year’s observance is “Love One Another,” based on the words of Jesus in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (Copied from the English Standard Version.)

People are gathering on this day all over America to spread this love and pray for their country and small communities. In Lackawanna County, believers will take part in an event called “Circle The Square With Prayer” from 6-7 p.m. on Courthouse Square in Scranton.

With that in mind, I asked some local pastors, “what is your prayer for the Abington community?”

Jamie Overholser, lead pastor at Crossroads Church, which currently meets at Nichols Village in South Abington Township, said his prayer for the Abingtons is “that God’s face would shine on us and that his Spirit would draw us to him in ways that decrease our self-sufficiency and increase our dependence on him.”

Mo. Lou Divis, of Church of the Epiphany, Glenburn Township, responded with her prayer, “Let us find joy in worship, comfort in our relationships and service in our community, as we each practice our unique faith traditions in the love of a merciful God.”

Michael Warner, pastor of worship and community at Clarks Green Assembly of God, also shared his prayer for the area.

“My particular prayer is for Christians throughout our Abingtons region to renew their God-given mandate to personally share the message of salvation through Jesus with those who don’t currently believe, or lack faith,” he said, adding he hopes area Christians will get involved in the many local events and activities that exist for that purpose.

Warner, who is the associate coordinator of this year’s county-wide NDP observance, said the Scranton event is called “Circle The Square With Prayer” because at the end, the crowd fans out, everyone joins hands, and makes a big circle around the square.

Pastors from around the county will participate, each offering prayer for a different topic. The event will also feature worship bands from local churches, daytime prayer walks and more.

More information can be found on the Facebook event page at bit.ly/22INnd7z.

Whether joining in the festivities in Scranton or praying privately at home, anyone can participate. And although the main purpose is to pray for the nation, there are no restrictions on what one can bring before God in observance of this day.

I plan to send one up on behalf of a certain 4-year-old in upstate New York, who’s longing for a sibling or two. What’s not to love about that prayer?

Contact the writer: 570-348-9100, ext. 3492; ebaumeister

@timesshamrock.com