President George W. Bush (right) has declared this Thursday, May 3, to be this year’s National Day of Prayer, calling on America to pray especially for the families affected by the shootings at Virginia Tech and also for military personnel overseas and their families back home.
“A prayerful spirit has always been an important part of our national character, and it is a force that has guided the American people, given us strength and sustained us in moments of joy and in times of challenge,” the president said.
“On this National Day of Prayer, we acknowledge God’s grace and ask for His continued guidance in the life of our nation.”
The president also encouraged Americans to participate in local prayer events. The National Prayer Day’s Web site www.ndptf.org indicates participation in numerous prayer events across the nation, from 12-hour prayer vigils in Texas to prayer breakfasts in Maine. The site encourages people to join an online prayer rally dedicated to repentance and cleansing.
“If we are to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and blessing upon our nation, we must begin with personal repentance,” the site stated.
The first national day of prayer began in 1775 when the first Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom as America was formed. The National Day of Prayer was not official however until 1952 when the U.S. Congress approved an annual prayer day to occur the first Thursday of May.
It is customary for the president and state governors to sign a proclamation to show their support for the Day of Prayer. This year every state has signed a prayer proclamation.