National Day of Prayer began similarly to Thanksgiving:
This Spring, our country will celebrate National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 6, 2021.
Originally signed into law in 1952, National Day of Prayer is a day when people of all faiths are asked to pray for our nation.
Title 36, Section 119 of US law states:
“The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
This means the National Day isn’t just a fun holiday — The President is legally required to sign a proclamation encouraging Americans to pray each year!
According to National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide, here is everything you need to know to celebrate this important yearly holiday.
Although the National Day of Prayer was officially signed into law in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman, the practice of praying over our country was really nothing new.
Ever since our nation’s founding, our nation’s leaders have always called for days of prayer, thanksgiving, and fasting.
In fact, according to Wikipedia, National Day of Prayer began similarly to Thanksgiving:
“In the New England Colonies under British rule, traditional observances in late fall called for prayer and thanksgiving, while observances in the spring or summer called for prayer and fasting. The fall observance was established by President Abraham Lincoln as the official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863. The spring observance was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1952 as the National Day of Prayer.”
While the Day certainly isn’t as widely accepted as Thanksgiving, it is a widespread and much-loved tradition that still takes place every year!
By the way, if you still have questions or want additional resources after reading this National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide, the website NationalDayofPrayer.org has a wealth of great resources to help you celebrate this important holiday as well.
Do Only Christians Celebrate?
While the Day is often thought of as a Christian holiday, it is not exclusive only to Christians. Many people of faith celebrate this Day, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Anyone of any faith can participate!
In fact, over 40,000 prayer gatherings are held every year—at churches, courthouses, mosques, synagogues, temples, and schools—which means millions of people are in prayer on this day.
Personally, I find it inspiring that so many people can put aside their differences and do this one thing together!
Each year, the President signs a new proclamation , and each year has a slightly different theme or focus.
Not surprisingly, the theme of the 2021 National Day of Prayer is love, life, and liberty.
Many of the great prayers of the Bible are of confession, either for an individual or for whole people groups. Let me be clear, however; the purpose of confession is not to feel ashamed and guilty. It’s to step forward in the ongoing restoration and healing in our relationships with God and the people around us.
Confession is an especially powerful approach on this Day because so many of our communities are hurting.
Be specific in confession: How have you or your community fallen short? How would you like to change?
- Praying Hands: Pixabay