Millions of Americans pray for nation on National Day of Prayer

Sarah Beth Costello
May 7, 2009

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

“The constitutional freedom of religion [is] the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights,” said Thomas Jefferson to the Virginia Board of Visitors in 1819.

Since 1775, the Christian community has dedicated specific days for the nationalization of prayer. President Harry Truman in conjunction with Congress was responsible for signing in the National Day of Prayer in 1952.

President Ronald Reagan modified this law in 1988, officially setting the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer. Since the enactment of this national day, every president has signed proclamations and encouraged Americans to pray and intercede for America. In 2008, all 50 governors signed similar proclamations.

May 7, 2009 marks the National Day of Prayer this year. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a Christian organization that seeks to encourage the Christian community on this day, specifically intercession on behalf of “the seven centers of power: government, military, media, business, education, church and family.”


Shirley Dobson

The National Day of Prayer is an annual event that seeks to promote prayer for all religions. The National Day of Prayer Task Force is a Christian organization, led by Shirley Dobson, that exists to encourage the Christian community on this special day. The Task Force believes prayer is the core of America’s principles.

Prayer has played a vital role throughout history, according to the official National Day of Prayer Task Force Web site. From the founding of America, to the day of “humiliation, fasting and prayer” as proclaimed by President Lincoln, past presidents and officials have made it their duty to advocate prayer.

According to the Web site, “[The National Day of Prayer] enables us to recall and to teach the way in which our founding fathers sought the wisdom of God when faced with critical decisions. It stands as a call to us to humbly come before God, seeking His guidance for our leaders and His grace upon us as a people.“

This year’s theme is “Prayer…America’s Hope,” which is based on the Bible verse in Proverbs 33:22, “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.” This year’s honorary chairman is Beth Moore, founder of the Living Proof Ministry.


Ceremonies were held annually in the East Room on the National Day of Prayer during the past eight years of President George Bush’s term in office. Bush usually invited Christian and Jewish leaders for a ceremony and prayer. President Barack Obama, however, decided against a ceremony in the East Room, but will still sign the proclamation as is the custom.

Dobson spoke out against the president’s minimal involvement in the national event. “At this time in our country’s history, we would hope our president would recognize more fully the importance of prayer,” said Dobson.


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