The National Day of Prayer is always the first Thursday in May. There is a long history of presidents proclaiming such a day of prayer, going back to the beginning of this country. In 1775 the Continental Congress set aside time for prayer, setting the precedent of such proclamations.
Harry Truman signed the bill in 1952 which officially designated the Day of Prayer, and Ronald Reagan determined the date in May. Since 1972 there has been a standing committee to coordinate events on this day.
Saint Paul, in the thirteenth chapter of Romans, calls on Christians to pray for those who are in positions of authority. This truly fulfills the commandment that we honor those placed above us. How can we speak ill of someone for whom we have prayed? How can we help but show respect for those for whom we have asked our heavenly Father to bless with wisdom and health.
In honor of this day of prayer, we pray the prayer our first president published in 1783.
Washington’s Prayer for the Nation
Almighty God, we make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection, that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large.
And Finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things, we can never hope to be a happy nation.
Grant our supplication, be beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The text reproduced here is from the 1942 Hymnal for Soldiers and Sailors published by the Government Printing Office.