What Is National Day of Prayer All About?

By | May 4, 2017

If you are a religious person then you maybe interested to know that the first Thursday of May is dedicated to people of faith. The National Day of Prayer is a day for you to pray for the nation of the United States and also to its leaders. Here in this post I will discuss what this day is all about and also as to its origins.

National Day of Prayer

The National Day of Prayer Task Force will be responsible for an impressive 35,000 plus prayer gatherings this year and with the help of approximately 40,000 volunteers. If you are unaware of this special day then you might be surprised to learn that there will be several million people who will participate in this call to prayer day.

Besides the public there will also be the odd celebrity who will do their bit on this day. Take for example Ricky Skaggs, (musician and Grammy Award winner), who will join the millions of Americans.

The National Day of Prayer Task Force was preceded by The National Prayer Committee back in 1972. This task force was responsible for coordinating events on this special day of prayer. They are a privately funded organization whose primary purpose is to encourage people to participate on this day.

Special Date:

National Day of Prayer – First Thursday of May


How Did This National Day of Prayer Begin?

At the start of the American Revolution in 1775 the Continental Congress wanted to set aside some time for people to prayer in the forming of the this country’s new start. The Congress proclaimed that “a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer” should be observed.

National Day of Prayer

Ever since then this day of prayer has formed a significant part of American history. It was created due to the faith of many of the founding fathers of today’s America.

Then 20 years later in 1795 President George Washington proclaimed a day for public thanksgiving and prayer. This was followed shortly by President John Adams on May 9th 1798 who declared a “a day of solemn humility, fasting and prayer“.

It was not until 65 years later would there be a day for the faithful to fast and pray. The President Abraham Lincoln on March 3rd 1863 signed a Congressional resolution which called for April 30th to be such a day. This resolution was signed during the middle of the American Civil War.

The President of the United States, ever since 1952, signs a proclamation to encourage all Americans to pray on one special day of the year for the country and its leaders. This day of observance asks people “to turn to God in prayer and meditation“.

It was President Harry Truman who signed this bill 65 years ago to proclaim the National Day of Prayer into law. This was then amended by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 who designated that the first Thursday in May become a day for everyone of all religions to prayer.

From 1789 up until 2015 there have been 144 national calls for people to prayer, fast and give thanks for the formation of the United States.

And since this amendment the President proclaims each year this day in May for people to turn to God in churches, in groups or individually. Even in 2016 each of the states governors, and also governors of U.S. territories have signed similar proclamations.


What Can You Do?

The National Day of Prayer has become a day where we reflect on the forming of the United States and how the founding fathers seeked guidance and wisdom from God. They had to make crucial decisions in the formation of a new world and thus asked God for help.

What can I do?

Although this is not a public holiday there are many public events that you can attend on this National Day of Prayer. You will find many venues of public gatherings open to you with no disruption to any road closures or lack of transport services. Please be free to not only attend a public event but also to participate as well.

What can you do on this National Day of Prayer:

  • Attend concerts with bands and choirs,
  • Attend community prayer breakfasts or lunches,
  • Take a daytime prayer walk,
  • Attend an evening worship and prayer services, o
  • Gatherings as well.

Final Thoughts

Even though I am not a religious person I do believe that there should be a day put aside for Americans to reflect on their beliefs. On this day people can also reflect on the formation of American and the decisions that were made to make the United States a new world when they broke away from Great Britain in 1775.

My ancestors came from all works of life, from shoemakers to coalminers, agricultural laborers and stone masons as well. But they were also religious, and so I have been encouraged and inspired to find my ancestors through all sorts of records. These have been official documents, Censuses, military records, newspaper archives and also any religious documentation that I have found.

May I suggest to you that you could trace your religious ancestors on this special day of the year. Not only can you check out Birth, Marriage and Death Records through the Ancestry website but also your Jewish family past as well.

I have also reviewed many religious guides that will help you find Jewish genealogy records and other denominations such as English Presbyterians or Unitarians as well as any ancestor of yours that may have been Anglican clergymen.

You may also wish to find out who your patron saint is on this National Day of Prayer. From this post you can choose a patron saint based on your birthday, your occupation, your family’s patron saint or maybe an illness of disease that has touched you in some way.


Thank You and Please Leave A Comment

I hope you enjoyed this post giving you a guide as to the national day of prayer is all about. If you think that this post will be helpful to others then please share it with friends and family using the social media buttons below.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave a comment below. I would love to hear from you.

Author: Owain

Hello, Owain here. After researching my family history for a number of years I wanted to give back to the genealogy world. So here you will find guides, tips and product reviews that will help you on your genealogy journey.

2 thoughts on “What Is National Day of Prayer All About?

  1. Linda Watson

    I really enjoyed this article. I never really looked into the history of the National Day of Prayer. I think it’s a day that most don’t really pay much attention too, but its so important to understand our history and our own personal history as well. I’m looking forward to seeing who my patron saint is. Thanks for the link!

    Reply
    1. Owain Post author

      Thank you for enjoying it Linda. As I mentioned in the post I am not religious but I am fascinated with history and the origins of days such as this. It shows us a glimpse into our ancestors lives.

      Reply

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