Today marks the 60th Annual Observance of the National Day of Prayer, with prayer gatherings in communities across the nation.
Although particular days of national prayer have been observed since America’s earliest history, a formal a nationwide annual observance began only in 1952, following the passage of a law signed by President Harry S. Truman that called for an annual National Day of Prayer.
More than three decades later, Congress and President Ronald Reagan, designated the first Thursday in May as the uniform date of that annual observance.
The theme for this year’s National Day of Prayer is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
This year’s 2011 National Prayer — used this morning at a prayer gathering at the Cannon House Office Building (to be rebroadcast here from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. ET tonight), as well as at many local gatherings around the nation— was written by current NDP honorary chairman, Joni Eareckson Tada:
Almighty God, you are our Mighty Fortress, our refuge and the God in whom we place our trust. As our nation faces great distress and uncertainty, we ask your Holy Spirit to fall afresh upon your people — convict us of sin and inflame within us a passion to pray for our land and its people. Grant the leaders of our country an awareness of their desperate need of wisdom and salvation in You until sin becomes a reproach to all and righteousness exalts this nation.
Protect and defend us against our enemies and may the cause of Christ always prevail in our schools, courts, homes, and churches. Lord God, send a spirit of revival and may it begin in our own hearts.
Remember America, we pray. Remember the foundations on which this country was built. Remember the prayers of our nation’s fathers and mothers, and do not forget us in our time of need.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen.
In a presidential proclamation marking this year’s National Day of Prayer, President Barack Obama noted that prayer has played a key and decisive role in the history of the United States. “It is thus fitting that…Congress and Presidents have set aside days to recognize the role prayer has played in so many definitive moments in our history…. [L]et us be thankful for the many other freedoms and blessings that we often take for granted.”
Last month, a federal court rejected (PDF) an attempt — in Freedom From Religion Foundation Inc. v. Barack Obama — to have the National Day of Prayer declared unconstitutional.
To find a National Day of Prayer gathering in your area, go here. (Note: Not all local events are listed.)
Many United Methodist churches are hosting NDP events. For a sampling, see this Google search.