National Day of Prayer was a call for healing, forgiveness

Ray County residents filled the lobby of Ray County Courthouse for the National Day of Prayer gathering. The group was led in prayer for elected officials, all branches of the military, firefighters and EMS, law enforcement, schools, churches, families and the community. (Photo by Liz Johnson/Richmond News)

By Liz Johnson, Staff Writer

Each year as the National Day of Prayer approaches, United States law requires the president to officially proclaim the prayer day for the first Thursday in May.

Christians believe that as believers in Christ and citizens of the United States, they have the right and spiritual responsibility to respond to the call of prayer on that day.

“Who but God’s people have the ability to enter into the very throne room of Heaven with prayers and petitions?” (

The first call to prayer in the country was in 1775 when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for the wisdom needed to form this nation. The call to prayer has continued throughout the ensuing years.

On March 2, 1863, Senator James Harlan, of Iowa, introduced a resolution to the Senate asking President Abraham Lincoln to proclaim a national day of prayer and fasting. Lincoln signed the proclamation on March 30, 1863.

Lincoln’s proclamation instructed the United States senate to consider the following. “… Devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God, in all the affairs of men and nations has by a resolution, requested the president to designate and set apart a day for National prayers and humiliation.

“It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.”

Nearly 200 years after the Continental Congress first prayed for wisdom, President Harry Truman declared an annual National Day of Prayer. In 1988, President Reagan signed an amended version of the law and set the day as the first Thursday in May, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.

The complete story is in the Friday, May 12, 2017 Richmond News.

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