National Day of Prayer opportunity for Americans to seek God

National Day of Prayer logo CNA US Catholic News 4 17 12

On May 3, Americans of all religious backgrounds will “gather together to pray and seek God” during the annual U.S. National Day of Prayer.

The need for prayer is clear when we “look at what’s going on around us,” said Dion Elmore, director of public relations for the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

“We have troops overseas right now in harm’s way. Our economy has been struggling for the last several years.”

Elmore told CNA on April 17 that there is a great need to call on God “and ask Him to be our provider,” especially “as our nation navigates through these trying times.”

Held each year on the first Thursday of May, the National Day of Prayer invites people of all faiths to offer prayers for America.

Elmore explained that the task force works to support, publicize and reinforce this call to prayer. While the National Day of Prayer is not a specifically Christian event, the task force focuses on calling Christians to “support our nation” by participating in the annual prayer day. 

On May 3, hundreds of groups will be holding prayer events in cities throughout the country. The National Day of Prayer Task Force will hold an event at the Cannon House Office Building in Washington, D.C., with speakers including noted author and pastor Dr. David Jeremiah.

The practice of calling for God’s guidance and assistance is a “long-established tradition in our country,” said Elmore.

He explained that the First Continental Congress called for a day of prayer in 1775 as it worked to form a new nation. Presidents including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln also called for days of prayer.

In 1952, a National Day of Prayer was established by a joint resolution of Congress, and in 1988, President Ronald Reagan signed a law permanently establishing the National Day of Prayer as the first Thursday of May each year. 

Elmore said he finds it particularly interesting to see why the nation’s leaders called for days of prayer.

In their writings, speeches and statements, the founding fathers and early presidents reveal their conviction that God had blessed America and the people need to ask for his continued aid, he explained.

This belief continues to today, and so each year the president signs a proclamation encouraging Americans to pray, he said. In addition, the governors of all 50 states plus several U.S. territories all signed similar proclamations last year.

President Barack Obama has issued proclamations for the National Day of Prayer in previous years, and is expected to do so again for the prayer event this year, which has the theme “One nation under God.”

Elmore noted that the Scriptures contain numerous references to nations gathering in prayer. He said that May 3rd presents Americans with an opportunity to re-examine themselves as a nation, asking, “Are we still one nation under God?”

The answer is a resounding “yes,” he continued, pointing to recent polls showing that most Americans believe in a God and spend time in prayer. “God’s not going anywhere,” he said.

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