The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday in May. This day of observance, designated by the United States Congress, asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” The modern law formalizing the annual National Day of Prayer observance was enacted in 1952 and each year since, the President of the United States has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
HOW TO OBSERVE
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Before 1952, there have been a few other individual National Days of Prayer in United States history:
- 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.