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The National Day of Prayer falls on Thursday, May 5, 2022. In the early 1950s, an evangelical movement called for Congress and the President to proclaim a National Day of Prayer. The movement gained momentum and on February 3, 1952, a young leader, Evangelist Billy Graham, led services for approximately 20,000 on the steps of the Capitol. Later that year, Congress proclaimed a joint resolution for a National Day of Prayer. President Harry S. Truman proclaimed a National Day of Prayer to be observed on July 4, 1952. On March 19, 1981, President Ronald Reagan changed the day of observance and proclaimed Thursday, May 7, 1981, as the National Day of Prayers. The Congress, by Public Law 100-307, as amended, has called on the President to issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer.

The purpose of National Day of Prayer is to call upon all people of different faiths in the United States to pray for the Nation and its leaders. Prayer is an integral part of daily life for many people. As is stated by The White House, “Throughout our history, Americans of many religions and belief systems have turned to prayer for strength, hope, and guidance.” Prayer offers a rich connection to our spiritual lives, nurturing our relationships and faith. America was founded by people of European descent with predominantly Christian backgrounds. National Day of Prayer was originally created to celebrate the Christian faith and to ask American citizens “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” As America grew to become a multicultural nation, it is widely celebrated by more than just those in the Christian community and is now a holiday is celebrated by people of all spiritual and religious backgrounds. 

People of all different faiths use the National Day of Prayer to collectively join in prayer in a variety of ways. Some may attend their church, synagogue, mosque, temple, or monasteries of their choice to pray, others will attend interdenominational prayer events, join prayer groups, or meditate on their own. Honoring National Day of Prayer implores all Americans to recognize they are part of a larger system, and consciously work to rise above our differences, pray for the determination to overcome adversity, and come together as one Nation.

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