The National Day of Prayer: America’s Sacred Tradition

prayer event
Does the future of our nation truly depend on the prayers of God’s people?

PRAY FIRST on this upcoming National Day of Prayer that our nation and all of its citizens turn their eyes to the cross and cry out to our Lord in prayer.

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” – 1 John 5:14

The National Day of Prayer is a sacred tradition that holds a special place in the hearts of many Americans. It is a day when people from diverse backgrounds come together to seek divine guidance, express gratitude, and intercede for their nation.

A Sacred National Tradition

The roots of the National Day of Prayer run deep, intertwining with the fabric of American history. Even before the United States was officially established, colonists recognized the importance of prayer during critical times. In the New England Colonies, traditional observances in late fall called for prayer and thanksgiving, while spring or summer observances called for prayer and fasting. President Abraham Lincoln established the fall observance as the official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863. 

In 1952, Congress passed a joint resolution, signed by President Harry S. Truman, declaring an annual national day of prayer. However, this resolution did not specify a fixed date for united prayer during the spring. It wasn’t until 1988, when President Ronald Reagan amended the law, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.  

Throughout American history, prayer has intersected with pivotal moments. During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for the nation to pray on June 6, 1944—the day of the D-Day invasion. Americans prayed fervently for the success of Allied forces storming the beaches of Normandy. Amid the struggle for civil rights, leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. invoked prayer as a powerful force for justice and equality. After the devastating terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans gathered in churches, synagogues, and mosques to pray for healing, comfort, and strength.  

A Christian Tradition

For us Christian Americans, the National Day of Prayer holds deep cultural and spiritual meaning. As prayer is a direct line of communication with God, The National Day of Prayer reminds us that the nation’s well-being ultimately rests in God’s hands. On this day, we can set aside theological differences and unite in the singular importance of prayer, transcending denominational boundaries and emphasizing shared values and purpose. Christians pray for their political leaders, seeking wisdom, integrity, and compassion, and intercede for national healing, justice, and revival.

The National Day of Prayer has left an indelible mark on American history. It encourages civic participation, reminding citizens that their faith should impact their public lives. Prayer rallies, gatherings, and vigils foster community and civic responsibility. In a divided nation, the National Day of Prayer can be a bridge that brings unity and hope, emphasizing shared values and the pursuit of the common good. The act of praying collectively invites spiritual renewal, reminding Americans of their spiritual heritage and the need for moral grounding.

Praying for Tomorrow  

During election years, the National Day of Prayer takes on added significance. As we prepare to vote, we pray for wisdom in choosing leaders who align with biblical principles and seek discernment in evaluating candidates’ character and policies. The act of praying transcends politics, reminding us that our ultimate allegiance lies beyond party lines.  

As we gather each year, we echo the words of President Lincoln: “It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon.”  


— Pray those nationwide who are taking this day to pray. May God be at work in through their prayers to create change and hope for our nation. Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ – Colossians 4:2-3
— Pray God to fill us as believers with hope, even during turbulent times, that He has a plan for us and that he is working for our good. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. – Romans 12:12


  • Pray for the men and women who serve the nation in our federal government that they will seek God in all that they do.
  • Pray for the candidates running in this upcoming election that they will seek to glorify God.
  • Pray for pastors and community leaders to prayerfully conduct themselves as they influence their communities.
  • Pray for Americans that they would continually lift up the nation in prayer each and every day.
2024 National Day of Prayer


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Suggested Prayer Topics
• Restoring hope and prayer in America
• The 2024 elections
• A specific federal or local government official
• U.S. military, veterans and first responders

(Prayer example from Dan in Georgia)

The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. – James 5:16

Sources: USA Today, University of California,, The Weekly Magazine, Oxford University Press, University of Virginia Press, Library of Congress, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, The Huffington Post, CBS News


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