Posted by: Cathi Brese Doebler | April 19, 2011

History of the National Day of Prayer

I’d like to introduce Annie McCune as today’s guest blog writer. Annie is the National Day of Prayer Coordinator for Western New York. She has shared the following information below taken from the National Day of Prayer website:

A History of the National Day of Prayer

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.

Three significant pieces of federal legislation shape our current National Day of Prayer:

1952 Harry S. Truman declares a National Day of Prayer and signs into law an annual observance there of. This resolution was passed unanimously.

1988 Ronald Reagan signs into law the designation of the first Thursday in May as the annual observance for the National Day of Prayer

1998 Public Law. 105-225, August 12, 1998, 112 Statute 1258:  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.

2011 Despite recent court challenges, May 5, 2011 is designated by the federal government as the 60th Annual National Day of Prayer and will be observed by millions of Americans throughout the world as a day to turn to God in prayer.

Fun Facts

1) There have been 136 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by the President of the United States (1789-2010).

2) There have been 58 Presidential Proclamations for a “National Day of Prayer” (1952-2010).

3) Gerald Ford (1976) and George H. Bush (1989-91) are the only U.S. Presidents to sign two National Day of Prayer Proclamations in the same year.

4) Every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.

Find our more at



  1. YES!!!!!!! I know that a world day of prayer is in order because of all the different nonsystematic weather patterns that we are currently seeing as well as the biligerent ignorance of some of todays society it is a if is has come down to this {IT THE YEAR OF THE NEW MELLENIUM AND NO SUCH BETTERMENT FROM OUR LORD AND SAVIOR- SO WHO CARES THERE IS ALREADY TOI MUCH DEATH AND DESCRUTION IN THE WORLD SO WHY NOW??????????????? BUT right now is the most important time to do it so people can stop for a nano second and for a split moment reflect that life and worlds people are worth ONE DAY of peace and prayer!!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this. It’s so good to know that the National Day of Prayer continues!

    • Glad to have you visit Connie!

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