“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:4, NKJV).

The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our rich heritage. Because of the faith of many of our Founding Fathers, public prayer and national days of prayer have a longstanding and significant history in American tradition.

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 for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863.

A Historic Joint Resolution

In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual National Day of Prayer. The Supreme Court affirmed the right of state legislatures to open their sessions with prayer in Marsh vs. Chambers (1983).

In 1988, the law was properly 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 was significant indeed as all 50 state governors, as well as the governors of several U.S. territories, signed similar proclamations.

Priority Prayer

Why should we pray for those who are in authority?