Today in History: National Day of Prayer
The first Thursday in May is the National Day of Prayer, a day that encourages Americans to pray for the United States, its people, and its leaders.
The tradition of a National Day of Prayer dates to 1775, when the Second Continental Congress set aside a day for Americans to pray to “be ever under the care and protection of a kind Providence” as they began the struggle for independence. In the following decades, Congress and the president set aside various days for prayer. In 1863, for example, Lincoln proclaimed “a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer” to help the country get through “the awful calamity of civil war” and for “the restoration of our now divided and suffering Country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.”
In 1952 Congress and President Truman established a National Day of Prayer as a yearly event. Truman called for a day “on which all of us, in our churches, in our homes, and in our hearts, may beseech God to grant us wisdom to know the course which we should follow, and strength and patience to pursue that course steadfastly.”
In 1988, President Reagan designated the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer, urging Americans to ask God for “His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our Nation, our friends in the defense of Freedom, and all mankind, now and always.”
American History Parade
1749 - George Washington receives his surveyor’s license from the College of William and Mary.
1809 - Mary Kies of Connecticut becomes the first woman to receive a U.S. patent, for a technique for weaving straw with silk and thread.
1864 - The Battle of the Wilderness begins in Spotsylvania Country, Virginia.
1925 - John T. Scopes is arrested in Tennessee for teaching Darwin’s theory of evolution.
1961 - Astronaut Alan Shepard becomes the first American to travel into space during a fifteen-minute suborbital flight.
1988 - The first Thursday in May is designated the National Day of Prayer.