The National Day of Prayer (36 U.S.C. § 119) is an annual day of observance held on the first Thursday of May, designated by the United States Congress, when people are asked “to turn to God in prayer and meditation”.
Each year since its inception, the president has signed a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to pray on this day. The modern law formalizing its annual observance was enacted in 1952; however, days of prayer have been called for since 1775, when the Continental Congress designated a time for prayer in forming a new nation.
The National Day of Prayer is celebrated by Americans of many religions, including Christians of many denominations, including Protestants and Roman Catholics, as well as Jews, Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus, reflecting the demographics of the United States.
On the National Day of Prayer, many Americans assemble in prayer in front of courthouses, as well as in houses of worship, such as churches, mosques, synagogues, and temples.