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National Day of Prayer in the United States

National Day of Prayer calls on all people of different faiths in the United States to pray for the nation and its leaders. It is held on the first Thursday of May each year.

National Day of Prayer
People of all faiths take part in National Day of Prayer.
People of all faiths take part in National Day of Prayer.
©iStockphoto.com/ Robert Kohlhuber

What Do People Do?

Through the efforts of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, more than 35,000 prayer gatherings will be conducted by about 40,000 volunteers across the United States. Several million people are expected to participate in this call to prayer. Some celebrities, such as popular musician and Grammy Award winner Ricky Skaggs, will join millions of Americans in praying for the nation.

Other events in various communities across the United States may include: choirs and bands performing songs relating to prayer; community prayer breakfasts or luncheons; daytime prayer walks; and evening worship and prayer services or gatherings. National Day of Prayer is a time for people of all faiths to pray together in their own way.

Public Life

National Day of Prayer is not a public holiday. Schools, post offices, stores and other businesses and organizations are open as usual. Public transport services run to their usual schedules and no extra congestion on highways is to be expected.


In 1775 the Continental Congress allocated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. Over the years, there have been calls for a day of prayer, including from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.

The National Prayer Committee was formed in the United States in 1972. It went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force, with the intended purpose of coordinating events for the National Day of Prayer.  According to the Legal Information Institute, the President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.

National Day of Prayer Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday TypeWhere It is Observed
ThuMay 62010National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 52011National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 32012National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 22013National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 12014National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 72015National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 52016National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 42017National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 32018National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 22019National Day of PrayerObservance 
ThuMay 72020National Day of PrayerObservance 

Quick Facts

National Day of Prayer is held on the first Thursday of May each year, inviting Americans of all faiths to pray for the country and its leaders.

National Day of Prayer 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

National Day of Prayer 2019

Thursday, May 2, 2019


Name in other languages

National Day of PrayerEnglish
Día Nacional de la OraciónSpanish
היום הלאומי של תפילהHebrew
اليوم الوطني للصلاةArabic
기도의 건국 기념일Korean
Nasjonal bønnedagNorwegian
Nationaler Tag des Gebets (National Day of Prayer)German

List of dates for other years

Related holidays

Other holidays in May 2019 in the United States

United Nation Holiday on May 3, 2019

Fun Holidays on May 3, 2019

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