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National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer
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May 6, 2021 is designated as the National Day of Prayer. All Americans, from all walks of life, are encouraged to pray for our nation. All faiths are invited to pray.

It is not a political event, nor is it necessarily a religious event.  All Americans are simply encouraged to “turn to God in prayer and meditation” at churches, in groups, and as individuals.

It is estimated that over 2 million people participated in praying and other observances during the last [non-pandemic year] National Day of Prayer, with over 60,000 community events established to promote unified public prayer for America.  Many people and neighborhoods and organizations pause their day-to-day activities to pray and gather with others to pray.  People will often assemble in front of courthouses and houses of worship.  Some events, such as the National Day of Prayer Congressional Observance, will be broadcast on television, and many ceremonies will be streamed and posted virtually.

This annual tradition began in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation; they recommended a day of public “humiliation [humility], fasting, and prayer.”  This call to prayer continued through American history, including Abraham Lincoln’s resolution for a day of prayer and fasting in 1863.  In 1952, President Truman declared a law that each subsequent president must declare a National Day of Prayer at a date of his choice.  In 1988, it was amended and set permanently as the first Thursday of every May by President Reagan.  And since then, each year the President signs the proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray for the nation on this day.

Additional Information

To learn more history and facts about this day, visit the site for National Day of Prayer.

For books and other materials that might inspire your prayer, we have how-to books available in our library catalog.


Kelly is a librarian at the Public Library of Youngstown and Mahoning County. As the Adult Programming Specialist, her focus is bringing adults the library programs they love.  (Kids can’t have ALL the fun!).  She reads strictly nonfiction and picture books.  She believes that anything you could ever need or want is located somewhere in the library.  Including friends.