The National Day of Prayer has been part of American traditions even before the country became a sovereign nation. It is not only a random Presidential proclamation done after every time you hear something awful happens in some part of the country. This year, our country continues the practice of engaging in heartfelt prayer by commemorating the event on the third day of May.
Created through a 1952 joint resolution by the Congress and officially signed into law by President Harry Truman, the annual day of prayer has become an icon of cooperation and unity for those with different religious backgrounds, affiliations, races, and social status.
This annual observance is held every first Thursday of May. And every year, a presidential proclamation is made to provide information on how the event will be celebrated. Past presidents often host short programmes and luncheons at the White House or other historic locations for this event. Every US President has made a National Day of Prayer yearly proclamation since it was enacted into law in 1952.
Also, any president or high-ranking government official may call for separate days of prayer within their jurisdictions when they face certain events like the aftermath of a natural disaster and/or to honor people who have violently died after a mass shooting.
When Abraham Lincoln first proposed the observance of a day of prayer, he was thinking about how a new nation was being formed and the need for clear thinking and divine guidance for everyone in the citizenry during that important period. Today, this purpose still prevails but it now calls for a more proactive approach.
Everyone is encouraged to pray for the country’s well-being and especially pray for the good judgment of those in government leadership roles. This is an annual secular event so it means that any American can celebrate it no matter what their religious denomination is.
Different states and counties will have different plans on how they want to commemorate the National Day of Prayer. The most common forms of observance are prayer vigils and short gatherings where all attendees are free to pray on their own. Some events may even have a speaker to talk about the significance of the event.
Some organizations like the National Day of Prayer Task Force may create a theme for the year’s celebration. This year, the theme is Pray for America – UNITY. This is based on the Ephesians 4:3 verse: “Making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”
The National Day of Prayer will mean different things to different people. It can be a day to say thanks for the different blessings in one’s life or it can also be a way to ask for deliverance when facing certain difficult tasks. What is clear is that our country fully supports everyone in this spiritual endeavor that there are no barriers when it comes to prayers.