May 5th, 2005 is the National Day of Prayer. Connect locally and be a part of this awesome event. The National Day of Prayer was created by an act of Congress and is, therefore, intended for all peoples of faith to pray to the God of their understanding. However, our expression of that involvement is specifically limited to the Judeo-Christian heritage and those who share that conviction as expressed in the Lausanne Covenant.
If peoples of other faiths wish to celebrate in their own tradition, they are welcome to do so, but we must be true to those who have supported this effort and volunteered their time to promote it. National Day of Prayer is not a function of the government and, therefore, a particular expression of it can be defined by those who choose to organize it. This is not a church/state issue.
Because of the faith of many of our founding fathers, public prayer and national days of prayer have a long-standing and significant history in American tradition. The Supreme Court affirmed the right of state legislatures to open their sessions with prayer in Marsh vs. Chambers (1983).
The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation of a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.
Prayer for the Nation
Official prayer for the National Day of Prayer
Written by Max Lucado, 2005
Not to us, O Lord, but to You goes all the glory.
We depend on you. You give birth and breath and determine our days. You make every nation and set every boundary. We exist by your power.
We exist for your glory. Showcase your power through this land. Display your justice in our courts, wisdom in our governments, guidance in our schools and love in our homes.
Have mercy upon our sins. We have disrespected Your word, disregarded your gifts, discarded your children. We are sorry. Forgive us, dear Father.
Grant strength to all our leaders. May they serve you first and honor you most. Remind us of the brevity of this life and the beauty of the next. Prepare our souls for the day we meet You in eternity.
This we pray in your holy name,
To communicate with every family the need for personal repentance and prayer, and to mobilize families to personal and corporate prayer, particularly on behalf of the nation and those in leadership on all levels of local, national, church and educational areas of influence.
Why We Pray
As American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, President Franklin Roosevelt called for our nation to unite in prayer. He also offered a prayer to prepare each citizen for the road ahead. “Let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee.” The victory that followed on June 6, 1944—also known as D-Day—began the march to Berlin. Eighteen months later, WWII was over and one of the world’s greatest evils had been defeated. The prayers of a nation had been a powerful force.
Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection and strength—even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The Pilgrims at Plymouth relied on prayer during their first and darkest winter. Our founding fathers also called for prayer during the Constitutional Congress. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a direct gift from God. And being a gift from God, there was only one way to insure protection—through prayer.
President Abraham Lincoln knew this well. It was his belief that, “it is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God.” When it came to the fate of the nation, he practiced what he preached. Before the battle of Gettysburg, he turned to God in prayer. “I went to my room one day and I locked the door and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.”
Won by the Union, Gettysburg was one of the turning points in the war that ended slavery and kept the states united. Today the need for prayer is as great as ever. Our nation again faces battlefields, along with an epidemic of broken homes, violence, sexual immorality and social strife. As the heroes of our nation did in the past, we must again bow our heads in prayer. We must ask the Lord to bless our leaders with wisdom and protection, and that we will have the fortitude to overcome the challenges at hand. If Roosevelt, the Pilgrims and Lincoln never underestimated the power of prayer, neither should we.
It is our goal that you, your family and friends would participate in the National Day of Prayer. We pray that the event impacts your life, and that praying for our nation moves from a one-day event to a lifetime endeavor. So join us on the first Thursday in May and pray with conviction that God would continue to shed His grace on thee.
The National Day of Prayer is Significant
The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people.
The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.
Like Thanksgiving or Christmas, this day has become a national observance placed on all Hallmark calendars and observed annually across the nation and in Washington, D.C. Last year, local, state and federal observances were held from sunrise in Maine to sunset in Hawaii, uniting Americans from all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds in prayer for our nation. It is estimated that more than two million people attended more than 40,000 observances organized by approximately 40,000 volunteers. At state capitols, county court houses, on the steps of city halls, and in schools, businesses, churches and homes, people stopped their activities and gathered for prayer.
The National Day of Prayer is Ours
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman, reminds us:
“We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too.”
1775 – The first Continental Congress called for a National Day of Prayer.
1863 – Abraham Lincoln called for such a day.
1952 – Congress established NDP as an annual event by a joint resolution, signed into law by President Truman.
1988 – The law was amended and signed by President Reagan, designating the NDP as the first Thursday in May.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force exists to encourage and promote events related to the National Day of Prayer, the first Thursday in May. Every effort is made to provide resources for individuals wishing to participate in or plan events on behalf of our ministry.
For more information, visit https://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/