The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. This day observance, designated by the United States Congress, asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.”
For many, prayer is an integral part of daily life. Prayer offers a rich connection to our spiritual lives, nurturing our relationships and faith. It also provides comfort in times of crisis or need.
HOW TO OBSERVE NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER
People of many different faiths join in prayer on this day. While some will attend the church, synagogue, mosque, temple or monasteries of their choice to pray, others will attend interdenominational prayer events. Some will join prayer groups or meditate. Use #NationalDayOfPrayer to post on social media.
NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER HISTORY
In the early 1950s, an evangelical movement called for Congress and the President to proclaim a National Day of Prayer. The movement grew and a young leader, Evangelist Billy Graham, led services for approximately 20,000 on the steps of the Capitol on February 3, 1952. Later that year, Congress proclaimed a joint resolution for a National Day of Prayer. President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a National Day of Prayer to be observed on July 4, 1952. Each year since that date, Americans have observed the day in their own way. The observance moved to the first Thursday in May by President Ronald Reagan and has been proclaimed each year since.
As a Nation, presidents and government officials have called for national days of prayer or thanks intermittently since before the country’s existence.
- July 20, 1775 – The Continental Congress issued a proclamation recommending “a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be observed.
- In 1795 – George Washington proclaimed a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.
- May 9, 1798 – John Adams declared this day as “a day of solemn humility, fasting, and prayer.”
- March 1863 – On March 3, Abraham Lincoln signed a Congressional resolution, during the Civil War, which called for April 30, 1863, as a day of fasting and prayer.
For more information on National Day of Prayer visit the website nationaldayofprayer.org.