Share This Day

Share to your favorite social media page

What day is National Day of Prayer celebrated? First Thursday in May.

What is National Day of Prayer? The National Day of Prayer is a day set aside by all Americans of every religion to celebrate the importance of prayer. It is also a day that those who believe in prayer to gather in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. There are also luncheons, picnics, and music performances revolving around praying for the nation and world. Traditionally, the President of the United States issues an official National Day of Prayer proclamation each year.

In addition, there is also a National Prayer Breakfast Day, held in Washington, D.C. on the first Thursday of February. It is hosted by Congress and leaders from 100 countries are invited and consists of 3,500 guests.

Who created this day? The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress, and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman.

Here are some facts about the history of the National Day of Prayer from one source.

  • The National Day of Prayer in its modern form is an annual observance that was created in 1952. However, prayer has always been an important part of American history. For instance, it was established by the Second Continental Congress from 1775 until 1783, and by President John Adams in 1798 and 1799. In addition, while serving as the governor of Virginia, Thomas Jefferson established a day of prayer and thanksgiving.
  • Not everyone appreciates or values prayer and some organizations have sought to bar Congress and the President from declaring a National Day of Pray. Those attempts to block the National Day of Prayer were unsuccessful, including being dismissed by unanimously dismissed by a federal appellate court in April 2011.
  • Each year since its inception in 1952, the sitting President has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.
  • Ronald Reagan administration and George H. W. Bush administration (1981–1993) each hosted special National Day of Prayer events held at the White House only once during their administrations.
  • Bill Clinton (1993–2001) did not hold any such events during his time in office, though he issued proclamations annually.
  • George W. Bush administration (2001–2009) made his first Presidential act be the announcement of a National Day of Prayer, and he held events at the White House in each year of his Presidency.
  • Barack Obama administration (2009–2017) did not hold any public events at the White House, but did issue Presidential proclamations regularly each year.
  • President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump attended church services in observation of a special National Day of Prayer and issued Presidential proclamations for the National Day of Prayer.

How to celebrate: There are many ways to privately or publicly celebrate the National Day of Prayer. First, privately plan to pray together as a family. Pray for our nation for unity and peace. Pray for all of your elected leaders (not just those you voted for). Second, you can attend a public prayer meeting at church or a luncheon for the National Day of Prayer. There is also a website dedicated to the National Day of Prayer.

As you enjoy the National Day of Prayer, let’s all be respectful of all faiths, as well as those that prefer not to pray. It is a day for unity, love, respect, and, most of all prayer.

What is the hashtag The hashtag for National Day of Prayer is #NationalDayofPrayer. Another popular hashtag is #Pray4Unity.

What other national days are there for prayer or religion? Several other national days have sprung up to celebrate religion, including:

  • Ash Wednesday 46 days before Easter Sunday
  • Chanukah Begins Hebrew calendar date of 25 Kislev
  • Easter Sunday full moon date after March 20
  • Good Friday Friday before Easter
  • Holy Innocents Day December 28
  • National Clergy/Pastor Appreciation Day Second Sunday in October
  • National Day of Prayer First Thursday in May
  • National Day of Reason First Thursday in May
  • National Religious Freedom Day January 16
  • International Religion Day January 18

There are many other national days relating to religion. In fact, National Day Archives has a separate category just for religion