National Day of Prayer: A Plea and Prayer Echoes in A Picture Book from 1945 to 2021!
Prayer for a Child
Text by Rachel Field; illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones
May 6th 2021 of this year was designated as the National Day of Prayer. It seems the world is much in need of this in so very many ways. And, it was as children, at a parent’s knee, at night prayers, or in some spiritual setting, that most of us learned to pray.
President Biden is required by law to issue a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer “on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups and as individuals.”
I find it a tad odd, as did others, that the word God was not to be found in the 2021 proclamation, as previous presidents have included it numerous times. But, perhaps it was a lapse on the President’s part.
Prayer for a Child, originally published in 1944, won the Caldecott Award for best picture book the following year, in 1945.
I imagine then, with a world at war, there were many prayers being sent heavenward for peace and stability. If history does indeed repeat itself, perhaps this Prayer for a Child is a timely classic for your young reader today.
Its pages are filled with things familiar to a child…family, friends and a wide world. Much has changed in a child’s world today. Simplicity has been replaced by complexity and childhood seems to be compressed into a smaller and ever smaller window of time
Technology has sped up that window of time. And though it may make connection of a certain sort easier, it does not change what the inner child longs and prays for; the family and friends they love and the everyday things they come in contact with on a daily basis.
This is where Prayer for a Child shines, as it is appropriate for every faith for it is simple in its appeal to the commonality in all faiths; love for God and neighbor and a respect for all we meet and touch in our lives.
Prayer for a Child’s front cover is a young girl kneeling in prayer in a pair of soft two piece pjs. And though we cannot see the child’s face, it is not important. It is every child.
The border of the cover of Ms. Orton Jones’ sweetly beautiful and relatable art are the cheery faces of children of every race, simply intimating that the prayers of humankind are the same. It is in the humble simplicity of every child of any creed or color to thank God for the people and things that are part of their world.
Much has changed in our world since 1945 and the winning of Prayer for a Child as best picture book of the year.
Technology has changed a great deal in our world as far as communication goes, but this type of communication in Prayer for a Child and its longing for the divine in our lives, and its simple accessibility is still done in the same way in 2021.
Beautifully done, this classic picture book’s message of simplicity and humble trust, narrated by a child, speaks quietly even today in a world lacking, and in need of calm and civility. Here, are but a few excerpts from its pages:
Bless the hands that never tire
In their loving care of me
Bless my Father and my Mother
And keep us close to one another
Bless other children far and near
And keep them safe and free from fear
Here is the introduction to Prayer for a Child by Ms. Field:
This is a prayer written for a little girl,
but it is a prayer for boys and girls all
over the world. It is full of the intimate
gentleness for familiar things, the love
of friend and family and the kindly pro-
tection of God. It carries a universal
appeal for all ages and races and
brings to our hearts and minds the
deep responsibility of preserving for all
times the faith and hope of little
Our Founding Fathers trusted their fortunes and fate to God asking His guidance in setting forward on the grand experiment of the formation of a new nation.
We, in many ways, I feel, have somehow fallen far afield in today’s culture, in keeping close to their origins and intent.
Perhaps, as someone recently opined, “our nation has to be tethered, in a good way, to a set of moral and ethical guides,” as the Founding Fathers were.
Somehow, today this book, published in 1944, repeats and reminds us all of the ageless and classic prayer for all generations and all faiths, of our young readers, to trust in its timeless message of a child’s continuing faith in a world filled with blessings bestowed on it by God; and our responsibility to see that trust rewarded. It is a simple prayer of childlike hope
The simple prayer from a child’s lips, as seen in this Caldecott Award winning book from 1945, may just be the start of a way back to a culture that the Founding Fathers intended.
On a National Day of Prayer, let us pray, each in his own way, that it is a new beginning towards reconnecting to a past that entrusted itself, and its future and fate to the Almighty.
See below the White House Proclamation of May 5, 2021 for the National Day of Prayer.
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