Events Increase Substantially for Nat'l Day of Prayer
Groups will gather throughout the day at churches, city halls, community buildings and even on street corners in recognition of the 61st annual National Day of Prayer.
The day was set aside by Congress in 1952 to encourage personal thoughts and prayers for the United States and its leaders. President Reagan later designated the first Thursday of May as the annual observance.
"I invite all citizens of our nation, as their own faith directs them, to join me in giving thanks for the many blessings we enjoy," President Barack Obama said in his proclamation for the National Day of Prayer.
"And I call upon individuals of all faiths to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great nation as we address the challenges of our time," he added.
The National Day of Prayer Task Force says 35 percent more events were planned for the holiday this year.
"At a time when our nation is facing a host of troubling problems, we simply cannot rely on our own strength. We must not forget the God of our fathers," Turning Point Radio founder and National Day of Prayer Task Force chairman David Jeremiah said in a video message.
"Our hope as individuals and a nation can only be found in Almighty God," he continued.
The 2012 National Day of Prayer carries the theme "One Nation Under God."
The government-sponsored holiday is usually met with protest. To counter prayer events, atheist groups have designated Thursday a National Day of Reason.
In 2010, a federal judge in Washington deemed the day of prayer unconstitutional. The Obama administration then appealed the ruling, and a higher court reversed the decision.
Ironically, this year's National Day of Prayer also falls on the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ban on public school prayer.