May 2 is the National Day of Prayer.
Here are seven things to know about its history:
- The first day of prayer was in 1775 – the Continental Congress wanted a time to pray for the new nation.
- In 1798, President John Adams made a proclamation recommending “a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer.”
- In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln also designated a day for fasting and prayer.
- In 1952, the National Day of Prayer was officially established in a bill signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. He proclaimed July 4 as the that year's day of prayer.
- In 1988, Ronald Reagan declared May 5 the National Day of Prayer. He amended Truman's law and permanently set the date for the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday in May.
- President George W. Bush held an interfaith service at the White House each year during his presidency. In 2009, President Barack Obama opted not to follow suit. He was the first president to mention nonbelievers in an inaugural address.
- Presidents have routinely made proclamations for the National Day of Prayer. The National Day of Prayer Task Force has an archive of proclamations back to 1990, though there were many prayer proclamatins made before then. Although the Task Force organizes many of the events for the day, is not a government organization – rather, it is a Christian one, which operates “in accordance with its Judeo-Christian beliefs.” However, the National Day of Prayer, as proclaimed by government, is for all people, regardless of religion.
Now, we'd like to hear from you. What are you praying for?
Share your thoughts and prayers in the comments section below.
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.