Interfaith Observance of USA National Day of Prayer 1976 May 14 Hunter College NYC

Filed under Prayer or silence day - event | Thoughts from the UN community.

Readings from the prayers of the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Sufi … traditions
*Interludes of classical music
*Excerpts from a play dedicated to the spirit of America written by Sri Chinmoy

FRIDAY MAY 14, 1976
6 o’clock p.m.

Admission free    All are welcome

FRIDAY MAY 14, 1976

Each year, by national tradition, the President of the United States declares one day The National Day of Prayer, a day for all Americans to gather in worship. On July 24, 1975, the first such Observance was held at the United Nations. Leaders of six of the world’s major religious bodies were invited by the Meditation Group at the United Nations , the New York City Council of Churches and The Sacred Fire to offer their commentaries to the more than 100 persons present at the Church Center for the United Nations.
The enthusiasm generated by this event inspired members of the Sacred Fire to collaborate with the Meditation Group at the UN and The International Cooperation for Peace Committee in sponsoring a recent World Day of Prayer at the United Nations, April 5, 1976. “Prayers for Peace and Progress” were delivered by the distinguished:

  • Pir Vilayat Khan, Head of the Sufi Order in thé West; the
  • Reverend Nakajima, Director, New York Zen Center;
  • Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, National Director, Inter-religious Affairs, The American Jewish Committee;
  • Edna McCallion, Director, U.N Office, Church Women United;
  • Dr. Hosny Gaber, Director, Islamic Center of New York;
  • Munishree Chitrabhanu, Founder, Jain Meditation International Center.

This year, as it is the Bicentennial of the United States of America, we have invited persons exemplary of a wide variety of professions and beliefs to join us in our reaffirmation of America’s spiritual heritage.

To house the many community members wishing to offer their prayers, we have employed the use of Hunter College Auditorium for this event.


The program will include the prayers of the invited guests (photos above)  and

scenes from a play dedicated to the spirit of America

written by Sri Chinmoy.

We have requested the presence of Sri Chinmoy, leader of the Meditation Group at the UN, to preside at this National Day of Prayer and open the evening with a silent meditation.

     We offer a most sincere invitation to participate with us on this day. The impact of such a communion of prayer should be quite profound.

    Related Statement by USA President for 1976

      Our Nation was born 200 years ago poor and very weak. Our leaders were untested and our land remote from much of the world. This continent was mostly a virgin wilderness.
     Yet our new Nation displayed extraordinary determination and near limitless capacity for discovery about ourselves and about our future. Our Declaration of Independence surpassed all worldly doctrines in its enlightened pronouncements on human rights and individual liberty.
     Our leaders showed that the inspired will and raw courage of our ragged defenders could defeat not only hardship and privation but the disciplined power of an empire. Our people demonstrated extraordinary belief that their cause was just and that it would prevail.
     I think it is well to recall at the start of this Bi·centennial Year that it was not might nor wealth which ultimately gained American independence and liberty but more powerful forces-the unshakable, unbreakable belief of our people in themselves and in their cause. They proved that a people’s greatest strength is its own faith …
     We know that wealth and power do not measure the greatness of this or any other nation. Our spiritual principles and moral value transcend the physical capacities and the boundaries of our land …
     Let us pray for God’s guidance in our pursuit of peace. Let us rediscover our past and renew ourselves in its cherished principles. And then let us begin our journey into this third century with the same faith and the same purpose of our Nation’s founders. Let us span the centuries at this moment and unite the past, the present and the future in spiritual communion …
     Let us make it “our earnest prayer,” as George Washington did two centuries ago, that “God would graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with charity and humility, and a peaceful temper of mind, without which we can never hope to be a happy nation.”
     And let us make it our “constant prayer,” as Lincoln did more than a century ago, not only that God is on our side, but that we “and this Nation should be on the Lord’s side.”
     Finally, let it be said that in this great Nation of ours freedom still flourishes and liberty still lives. As we declare our dependence on God, let us unite in the same bond which united those who signed America’s Declaration of Independence 200 years ago.”
–   The President’s, Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the 24th Annual Prayer Breakfast. Jan. 29, 1976

America’s bright promise  

  … Every nation has its soul. The soul of a nation consists of its aspirations, aptitudes and capacities placed at the service of the Supreme. Judging by her history, America holds the brightest promise of placing at the service of the Divine her aspirations, aptitudes and capacities, as she has often, in times of need, placed them at the service of humanity.
Now that a spiritual awakening is upon the world, it is only a question of years-and certainly not centuries-before its golden glint falls on the face of every nation. The Divinity now hidden beneath the surface will shine forth, to a greater or lesser degree, upon each one.
Until now the world has seen largely the surfaces of American life, and it has formed its opinion accordingly. Not that her depths have not occasionally come to view, but such occasions have been few in relation to the vastness and variety of her population.  Needless to say, there are great indications of a greater future; and as the Golden Hour of God dawns and advances towards its fulness, the splendor of America’s soul will shine more and more on the surface, even for crude eyes to see …

America is wealth.
America is heart.
America is sacrifice.

Before long in America hopefully there will shine forth the world’s collective soul.
–  from America In Her Depths by Sri Chinmoy


Invitation also included a reproduction of New York Times Article from Friday , July 25, 1975

6 Faiths Present at Church Center – Leaders Mark National Day of Prayer

“most representative gathering of religious leaders ever held in the city.”

see full programme : here

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Page images ( click on image below to enlarge)

From Report of “Anahata Nada” of June 1, 1976:


A prayer selected by the First Lady. Mrs. Betty Ford, was read out here last month at a National Day of Prayer Observance.

The ceremony that brought together representatives of different faiths and top business executives was a Bicentennial salute to the role that prayer has played in the founding of the United States. It was sponsored by The Sacred Fire Bicentennial Group.

President Ford had declared May 1, National Prayer Day and during the observance Sri Chinmoy read out a parchment copy of the prayer day proclamation which the White House had sent him. Sri Chinmoy also opened the programme with silent prayer.

The function included prayers by representatives of the academic community the performing arts, the legal profession and religious groups. Dr. C. T. Sher chairman of the board of American Steam ship Line, represented the corporate work

There were also musical selections an excerpts from Sri Chinmoy’s play on America, The Sacred Fire.