Tuesday, April 28, 2020 – The National Day of Prayer shares common roots with the celebration of Thanksgiving, both are a national day of prayer proclamation.
In 1863, the late fall call for prayer was established by President Abraham Lincoln as the official Thanksgiving holiday.
In 1952, the spring call for prayer was established by President Harry S. Truman, known as the National Day of Prayer.
In his role as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, General George Washington acknowledged a day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer,” proclaimed by the Continental Congress, to be held on Thursday, May 6, 1779. In March 1780, Congress announced a day of “fasting, humiliation and prayer” to be held on Wednesday, April 26, 1780.
From 1784 until 1789, the practice of calling for a national day of fasting and prayer was abandoned, even though Thanksgiving was observed each fall.
On October 3, 1789, by then-President George Washington called for a national day of prayer-Thanksgiving to be observed on Thursday, November 26, 1789.
After James Madison, the 4th U.S. President – 1809 to 1817 – none of the next eleven presidents issued prayer proclamations, thus, there was a period of 47 years, from 1815 to 1862, with no presidential prayer proclamations.
During the Korean War – January-February 1952 – Reverend Billy Graham expressed the desirability of a united national prayer by saying, “What a thrilling, glorious thing it would be to see the leaders of our country today kneeling before Almighty God in prayer. What a thrill would sweep this country. What renewed hope and courage would grip the Americans at this hour of peril.”
That was Graham’s challenge for a national day of prayer, followed by members of the House and Senate introducing a joint resolution for an annual National Day of Prayer, meaning, a day “on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
On April 17, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed a bill into law proclaiming that a National Day of Prayer must be declared by each subsequent president at an appropriate date of his choice.
In 1988, Truman’s law was amended so that the National Day of Prayer would be held on the first Thursday of May.
The National Day of Prayer has twofold meaning: it represents a day when adherents of all great religions could unite in prayer, and, hopefully, one day it may bring renewed respect for God to all the peoples of the world.
Only once during their term in office, the administrations of both, President Ronald Reagan (1981 – January 20, 1989) and George H. Bush (1989-1993) hosted special National Day of Prayer events at the White House.
President Bill Clinton (1993-2001) did not hold a National Day of Prayer during his time in office, though he annually issued proclamations.
President George W. Bush’s (2001-2009) administration made his first presidential act be the announcement of a National Day of Prayer, which was held at the White House during each year of his presidency.
President Barack Obama (2009-2017) did not hold any public events at the White House, though each year he regularly issued presidential proclamations.
Current President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended church services in observation of a special National Day of Prayer, which Trump previously declared in support of the victims of Hurricane Harvey in the state of Texas, in order to “uplift one another and assist those suffering from the consequences of this terrible storm.”
For the past 35 years people of the Christian Faith and others have been celebrating the National Day of Prayer throughout the United States. In California, this special prayer day is held, at noon, in front of Los Angeles City Hall, located Downtown.
This virus pandemic year differs in the way we conduct the National Day of Prayer, but its spiritual message remains steadfast.
Churches In Action Invites You
Virtual Interfaith Gathering: https://us04web.zoom.is/meeting
Meeting ID 774 8524 1972 | Password: 1Lw2P4
The Annual National Day of Prayer
Held each year on the first Thursday of the month of May
Thursday, May 7, 2020
09:30 AM – 10:00 AM
People of various faiths will be conducting this spiritual gathering tradition – this year virtual – to offer prayer for:
Our World, all Humanity, the sick and healthy,
Our Medical Professionals and First Responders,
Our Truckers and all other Essential Workers
All the volunteers and those who get out of their way to help where needed
We pray for Justice, Mercy and Humility
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heavens, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” ~ Scripture 2 Chronicles 7:14, New International Version (NIV)
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