National Day of Prayer

By Betsy Hall

National Day of Prayer this year is May 4. The modern-day National Day of Prayer was first proclaimed by President Harry Truman in 1952. However, 1988 saw the passing of a law formalizing this day as the first Thursday of May:

The President shall set aside and proclaim the First Thursday in May in each year, 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.

Every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation. The National Day of Prayer (NDP) Task Force encourages participation and has chosen the theme “Pray fervently in righteousness and avail much” based on the scripture from James 5:16 “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (NIV)

This is a theme we can all agree on. Praying for each other is powerful and effective. But the most important aspect of this day, in my opinion, is not necessarily following the theme chosen by this task force, but looking deep inside your heart and praying for what you need.  Is that selfish? Not at all. As Paul writes to the Philippians Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.” Philippians 4:6 (NLT)

On the NDP website site there is information about a broadcast Thursday evening at 8 PM. There is also a National Prayer for America written by Kathy Branzell, President of the NDP Task Force. The prayer begins “We come with fervent hearts to praise You Lord. You are the Word, the Way, Truth and Life.”  And ends “Believing You; all You are, all You said, and all You have promised, we pray fervently in righteousness and avail much. In Jesus’s Name we pray, Amen.”  The full prayer is available on the website, but again I suggest that you “fill in the blanks.”  Whether you choose to pray for our country, our leaders, our world, our community, your family, your church, yourself; all prayers will be lifted up this day.  And I believe there is power in numbers.


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