About National Day of Prayer


Facts About National Day of Prayer

What is the National Day of Prayer?
The National Day of Prayer was established as an annual event in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The observance of the National Day of Prayer is founded on the constitutional rights of freedom of speech and freedom of religion and can be celebrated by all Americans.

What is the NDP Task Force and what is its purpose?
The NDP Task Force concentrates on the need to pray for the well-being of America and for those in leadership on all levels of national, church and educational areas of influence. The National Day of Prayer is observed annually on the first Thursday of May.

The 60th Annual National Day of Prayer will take place Thursday, May 5, 2011. Millions will unite in prayer at thousands of events from coast to coast. The theme is “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”and is based on the verse from Psalm 91:2 which states: “I will say to the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

Joni Eareckson Tada will join Shirley Dobson to lead the nation in prayer as the 2011 Honorary Chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force.

When did the NDP begin?
Days of prayer have been called for since 1775, when the Continental Congress designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. In 1863, Abraham Lincoln called for such a day. Officially, the NDP was established as an annual event by an act of Congress in 1952 and was signed into law by President Truman. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the NDP.

Is the NDP exclusively a Christian event?
No. This government-proclaimed day is offered to all Americans, regardless of religion, to celebrate their faith through prayer. However, the efforts of the NDP Task Force are executed specifically in accordance with its Judeo-Christian beliefs.

Is the NDP a political event?
No. The National Day of Prayer, as designated by our government, belongs to all Americans. It is not sponsored or owned by any one group. Every American can observe the NDP in his or her own way. Each year, the President issues a proclamation in support of this significant day.

Who is behind the NDP Task Force?
The Chairman is Mrs. Shirley Dobson, who has held the position since 1991. Mrs. Dobson volunteers her time and does not receive a salary. The NDP Task Force consists of a full-time staff and a network of thousands of grassroots volunteers nationwide. Mr. John Bornschein serves as the Executive Director. Prior to Mrs. Dobson’s involvement, the Task Force was led by Mrs. Vonette Bright, wife of former Campus Crusade for Christ president and founder Bill Bright.

Is the Task Force affiliated with Focus on the Family or Family Talk?
No. Though Mrs. Dobson is married to Focus on the Family and Family Talk founder Dr. James Dobson, the NDP Task Force is a separate organization. It was housed at the Focus on the Family headquarters from 1991 to 2009 and is currently located at an independent office in Colorado Springs, CO. Its business affairs have always remained separate and Focus on the Family was compensated for services rendered. However, between 1991 and 1993, Focus on the Family did provide grants in support of the NDP Task Force. Since then, the Task Force has been completely self-supported.

What kinds of events are planned?
The most visible gathering has been held historically at our nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. on the first Thursday of May. The executive, legislative and judicial branches of government are represented, as well as the military. In addition, Christian leaders address the current year’s theme and other areas of interest (i.e. education, youth, families, etc.).

In 2010, approximately 40,000 events were held nationwide. Local volunteers and coordinators held a variety of activities ranging from prayer breakfasts, Bible reading marathons, concerts of prayer, rallies, church prayer vigils, student flagpole gatherings and observances held in sports stadiums.. In addition, Christian leaders address the current year’s theme and other areas of interest (i.e. education, youth, families, etc.).

What is the National Day of Prayer Sunday?
On Sunday, May 1, 2011, in churches, when 40 million Christians come together to worship, the Task Force is encouraging groups to take seven minutes to pray for the Seven Centers of Power (pray one minute each for these 7 centers of influence: government, military, media, business, education, church and family). Pray for renewal in our hearts and repentance to come to America. Why not claim this Sunday as NDP Sunday, forever, in your church! This can kick off whatever the churches and NDP coordinators want to do during the week, on up to the day of celebration and declaration on NDP Thursday.

History of National Day of Prayer

Because of the faith of many of our founding fathers,

...public prayer and national days of prayer have a long-standing and significant history in American tradition. The Supreme Court affirmed the right of state legislatures to open their sessions with prayer in Marsh vs. Chambers (1983).

The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of our heritage. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history, including President Lincoln's proclamation of a day of "humiliation, fasting, and prayer" in 1863. In 1952, a joint resolution by Congress, signed by President Truman, declared an annual, national day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended and signed by President Reagan, permanently setting the day as the first Thursday of every May. Each year, the president signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors plus the governors of several U.S. territories signed similar proclamations.

The National Day of Prayer has great significance for us as a nation. It 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. The unanimous passage of the bill establishing the National Day of Prayer as an annual event, signifies that prayer is as important to our nation today as it was in the beginning.

Like Thanksgiving or Christmas, this day has become a national observance placed on all Hallmark calendars and observed annually across the nation and in Washington, D.C. Last year, local, state and federal observances were held from sunrise in Maine to sunset in Hawaii, uniting Americans from all socio-economic, political and ethnic backgrounds in prayer for our nation. It is estimated that more than two million people attended more than 40,000 observances organized by approximately 40,000 volunteers. At state capitols, county court houses, on the steps of city halls, and in schools, businesses, churches and homes, people stopped their activities and gathered for prayer.

The National Day of Prayer belongs to all Americans. It is a day that transcends differences, bringing together citizens from all backgrounds. Mrs. Shirley Dobson, NDP chairman, reminds us: "We have lost many of our freedoms in America because we have been asleep. I feel if we do not become involved and support the annual National Day or Prayer, we could end up forfeiting this freedom, too."

History Summary

1775 - The first Continental Congress called for a National Day of Prayer.

1863 - Abraham Lincoln called for such a day.

1952 - Congress established NDP as an annual event by a joint resolution, signed into law by President Truman.

1988 - The law was amended and signed by President Reagan, designating the NDP as the first Thursday in May.

MAY GOD CONTINUE TO BLESS THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA