'Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself the
time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.'
Thomas Jefferson, 1808
Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, national days of prayer have been a vital part of our nation's heritage.
Each year, in keeping with tradition the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. And, every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.
President Lincoln during the troubling days of our national horror proclamed 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.
And, in 1988, Ronald Reagan in the Second Session of the One Hundredth Congress signed Public Law 100-307, permanently setting the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday of every May.
The 1998 Pub. L. 105-225, August 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1258 reads: 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.
The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.
Our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people.
The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman, reminds us: “We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day of Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too.”
Every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation.