COLUMN: National Day of Prayer to be held May 2

Published 7:30 am Sunday, April 21, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The National Day of Prayer will be held on May 2. This annual event, held the first Thursday in May, invites people of all faiths to pray for our nation.  Typically, over 60,000 community events are planned for people to come together to pray.  Individuals are also encouraged to pray throughout that day.  There will be prayer on the Court Square in Andalusia at noon on May 2.

This year’s theme, “Lift up the Word, Light up the World,” is based on 2 Samuel 22:29 – 31 which reads, You, Lord, are my lamp; the Lord turns my darkness into light.  With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.  As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him” (NIV).

People are asked to pray for our nation’s government – federal, state, and local – our military, media, businesses, education, church and families.  You will find scriptures to read as you pray for this list at

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.  Every President since 1952 has signed a National Day of Prayer proclamation, and there have been almost 150 national calls to prayer, humiliation, fasting and thanksgiving by the Presidents of the United States (1789-2020).

On May 15, 1776, General George Washington stated, “The Continental Congress having ordered Friday (May) the 17th instant to be observed as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please Him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and lasting foundation…”

In 1863, President Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of prayer and fasting.  President Franklin Roosevelt led the nation in prayer on D-Day, June 6, 1944, “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity…”

In 1988, a bill was passed unanimously by the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate designating the first Thursday in May as the annual observance for the National Day of Prayer.  President Ronald Reagan signed the bill into law.

In 1787, while representatives met to write the Constitution of the U.S., there was little or no progress until 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin called for daily prayer, “In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered… And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.”

S.D. Gordon, an American devotional writer, once said, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and for man is to pray.” Take a few minutes on Thursday, May 2 (and every day of the year) to pray that America will return to Biblical principles upon which our country was founded. 

— Jan White has compiled a collection of her columns in her book, “Everyday Faith for Daily Life.”