What is the National Day of Prayer?

For those who don’t know, the National Day of Prayer is celebrated every year on the first Thursday of May.

Christians and people with religions of all denominations, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others, celebrate the National Day of Prayer every year. It’s an American holiday that reflects the diversity of Americans as well as religions. 

Many Americans participate in the National Day of Prayer by assembling to pray outside courthouses, as well as inside churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. A lot of people celebrate with different prayer events, such as having lunch, picnics, and musical performances centered around praying for the nation. 

This day of observance, appointed by the United States Congress, encourages prayer and meditation from all walks of life. A National Day of Prayer proclamation is traditionally also issued every year by the President of the United States at the White House. 

National Day of Prayer observance is a tradition that both political parties have honored, including presidents like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and it will be marked by President Joe Biden this year. 

Even though the National Day of Prayer may look a little different this year, you can still celebrate it with others and pray with them. 

So, how did this day of prayer come about?

History of the National Day of Prayer

Both the National Day of Prayer and the Thanksgiving holiday share a common foundation of proclamations issued by the federal government setting up a day of prayer. 

Some American cities and colonies in the 18th century proclaimed days of prayer and fasting after friction between the American colonists and England began to rise. 

Although it wasn’t until 1775 when the observance of a day of fasting and prayer was brought to all colonists by the Continental Congress.

As British rule spread throughout the New England Colonies, traditional religious observances in the late fall called for thanksgiving and prayer, while those in the spring or summer required a day of fasting and prayer. 

While it may seem like the pilgrims created Thanksgiving, President Abraham Lincoln established the first official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. This was the fall observance of prayer and gratitude while sharing a meal with family and friends.

But it wasn’t until 1952 when the spring observance was established by President Harry S. Truman as the National Day of Prayer. While Easter was still celebrated, the United States of America needed an extra holiday dedicated solely to praying. 

The goal for this holiday was that it would be a day when people from all religions could gather in prayer. It was created with the hope that it might one day restore interest and reverence for our almighty God among the peoples of the world.

In preparation for the National Day of Prayer this year, here are a few things to consider praying about.

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