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National Day Of Prayer 2021: What Is It And How To Celebrate It

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In our minds, the word prayer is typically associated with asking God for help by presenting requests by ourselves. 

Although that may be a true descriptor sometimes, there’s a holiday that’s observed every year when millions of people in the U.S. pray together in different houses of worship. 

This Spring, the U.S. will celebrate the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 6, 2021. It’s a day where people of many faiths get together and pray collectively. 

Today, we’ll discuss what the National Day of Prayer is and what to pray for on this day.

What is the National Day of Prayer?

For those who don’t know, the National Day of Prayer is celebrated every year on the first Thursday of May.

Christians and people with religions of all denominations, including Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and others, celebrate the National Day of Prayer every year. It’s an American holiday that reflects the diversity of Americans as well as religions. 

Many Americans participate in the National Day of Prayer by assembling to pray outside courthouses, as well as inside churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples. A lot of people celebrate with different prayer events, such as having lunch, picnics, and musical performances centered around praying for the nation. 

This day of observance, appointed by the United States Congress, encourages prayer and meditation from all walks of life. A National Day of Prayer proclamation is traditionally also issued every year by the President of the United States at the White House. 

National Day of Prayer observance is a tradition that both political parties have honored, including presidents like Ronald Reagan, Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama, and it will be marked by President Joe Biden this year. 

Even though the National Day of Prayer may look a little different this year, you can still celebrate it with others and pray with them. 

So, how did this day of prayer come about?

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History of the National Day of Prayer

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Both the National Day of Prayer and the Thanksgiving holiday share a common foundation of proclamations issued by the federal government setting up a day of prayer. 

Some American cities and colonies in the 18th century proclaimed days of prayer and fasting after friction between the American colonists and England began to rise. 

Although it wasn’t until 1775 when the observance of a day of fasting and prayer was brought to all colonists by the Continental Congress.

As British rule spread throughout the New England Colonies, traditional religious observances in the late fall called for thanksgiving and prayer, while those in the spring or summer required a day of fasting and prayer. 

While it may seem like the pilgrims created Thanksgiving, President Abraham Lincoln established the first official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863, in the middle of the Civil War. This was the fall observance of prayer and gratitude while sharing a meal with family and friends.

But it wasn’t until 1952 when the spring observance was established by President Harry S. Truman as the National Day of Prayer. While Easter was still celebrated, the United States of America needed an extra holiday dedicated solely to praying. 

The goal for this holiday was that it would be a day when people from all religions could gather in prayer. It was created with the hope that it might one day restore interest and reverence for our almighty God among the peoples of the world.

In preparation for the National Day of Prayer this year, here are a few things to consider praying about.

Prayers for the National Day of Prayer

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‘The spiritual, mental, and physical health of America has been selected as the theme for the 2021 National Day of Prayer by That is very appropriate with everything that this country has faced in the last year, from civil unrest to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. 

Keeping that in mind, here’s a shortlist of how to pray for spiritual, mental, and physical health.

Prayers for Spiritual Health

You might not recognize spiritual wounds; they might show up as anxiety or damaging attitudes or behaviors. Perhaps you are feeling sad, angry, or dissatisfied with yourself. The healing process entails the discovery of the root cause of these problems through prayer and spiritual meditation.
The healing of spiritual wounds can come from the hands of Christ, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for help from the right people, such as professionals.

woman praying in the woods

A spiritual guide can also be a great resource to help heal spiritual wounds. 

Most importantly, you must trust that God will help you through this process.

Plus, you might even be able to help someone else through their own healing journey because God’s grace is never wasted.

Hebrews 10:24–25 says, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

In this powerful prayer, we see that God's love, amidst all the suffering we hear about every day, will shine through.

Prayers for Mental Health 

Individuals who experience a mental illness may experience loneliness and uncontrollable emotions. Those suffering from mental illnesses, as well as their loved ones, are searching for comfort, hope, understanding, and peace.

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Nevertheless, expecting all people with mental illnesses to overcome them through God’s will alone would be as unrealistic as expecting someone with a physical illness to forego medication.

That isn’t to say prayer doesn’t give some comfort. If you are praying with someone diagnosed with mental illness, you are well-advised to pray for sensitivity beforehand so that you can determine the problem and respond accordingly.

John 16:33 says, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Even though we are not guaranteed a life without suffering, we still have hope that He will help us through the process. Having a mental illness doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong, nor do you lack faith, you're just fighting a battle, and God fights it beside you.

Prayers for Physical Health

It’s safe to say we could all use a little healing in our lives right now, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual. 

Jeremiah 33:6 says,  “Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”

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Whether you’re praying for your own health or the health of another, we can be reassured that God is right beside us, no matter what happens. 

Prayer for each other brings glory to God. The care we display for one another reflects the generosity of God, who is the source of all good. 

As we reflect on God, we are not only building a stronger bond with Him that we can all benefit from, we also produce good by working together. We can all give our Lord praise when one succeeds in fulfilling His desires for the rest of us.

So we should always pray for each other because prayer creates unity between us.

Remember the date

It doesn’t matter if you’re going to church or spending the holiday with your family this year; you can use these prayers in any way you see fit.

Hopefully, this will give you some inspiration for potential prayers, and don’t forget that the National Day of Prayer is May 6th!

For more daily prayers and bedtime Bible stories, download the app in the iOS App Store or Google Play.

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