Executive Director, Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation
“Fasting and prayer are religious exercises; the enjoining them, an act of discipline. Every religious society has a right to determine for itself, the time for these exercises, and the objects proper for them, according to their own particular tenets; and right can never be safer than in their hands, where the Constitution has deposited it.” Thomas Jefferson, 1808
May 2nd marks the 62nd Annual National Day of Prayer Celebration, and we encourage you join the hundreds of thousands of Americans who will be assembling across the nation!
From the country’s inception, many of our Presidents and leaders have called its citizens to prayer, and even fasting, in critical times. They realized the importance of humbling ourselves before a holy God to seek His intervention, protection and favor. Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to beseech God for wisdom in forming a nation, the invitation has continued through our history, including President Lincoln’s proclamation for a day of “humiliation, fasting, and prayer” in 1863.
It was created in 1952 by a joint resolution of the United States Congress and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. In 1988, the law was amended so that the National Day of Prayer would be held on the first Thursday of May. Each year, the President signs a proclamation, encouraging all Americans to take pause and earnestly seek God’s face on this day. Last year, all 50 state governors, plus the governors of several U.S. territories, signed similar proclamations.
On April 15, 2010, U.S. District Judge, Barbara Crabb, ruled that the statute establishing the National Day of Prayer was unconstitutional, stating it is, “an inherently religious exercise that serves no secular function.” However, the Seventh U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the right of Americans to observe this National Celebration of our spiritual heritage and the freedom to pray and worship God in the public square.
This year, several nations are joining with us in a Worldwide Call for Prayer and Fasting for America on April 30 – May 2nd. Prominent among them are Australia and New Zealand, and includes others who are standing with the United States during our hour of need. This is a global invitation to Pray and Fast for America over a 72-hour timeframe. Many have much to thank the United States regarding her past and present sacrifices for the cause of freedom. Additional resources can be found at www.nationaldayofprayer.com.au/america.
The Congressional Prayer Caucus, an official caucus of the United States Congress, was established in 2005 by Congressman Randy Forbes (R-VA) to assemble members of Congress for the purpose of prayer and to become a frontline defense against the increasing attacks on God and faith in America. The bi-partisan Caucus currently consists of nearly 100 members who are committed to protecting religious liberty and preserving America’s faith-based heritage. Legislators regularly pray together in the U.S. Capitol before each House session.
In 2011, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus initiated a Resolution to reaffirm our National Motto as, “In God We Trust” and their efforts became a landslide vote in the House of Representatives—396/9 in favor of recognizing God’s enduring place in American culture. The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation (CPCF), a non-profit, non-partisan organization, was created to work alongside the official Caucus for this purpose—to protect our religious freedoms, restore Judeo-Christian principles to their rightful place in the marketplace of ideas and to build and support a growing nationwide network of lawmakers and citizens.
We encourage everyone to participate in these important initiatives based on our understanding that this country was birthed in prayer and in reverence for the God of the Bible. There will be thousands of National Day of Prayer events taking place across this nation; consider going to www.nationaldayofprayer.org to find one near you! The CPC Foundation Team will be participating in events in Washington, D.C.
Please take time, no matter where you are, this and every day to pray. The enemy of our soul does not always care if we just talk about prayer. He does not mind so much when we read, write books or blog about prayer. However, he trembles at the sight of a person’s knees bowing and at the sound of humble words being offered up to the throne of God in thanksgiving and petition. Pray for our national, state, and local leaders and once again, let America declare with a resounding voice, “In God We Trust!”
Lea Carawan, M.A., is President and Founder of Carawan Global Group; speaker, consultant; leadership, marriage and life coach; Founder and Executive Director of Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation; ordained minister; graduated with her Masters in Practical Christian Theology from Regent University; Founder of Transformed Living; and has a career spanning three decades transitioning seamlessly between entrepreneurship, fashion, consulting, ministry and motherhood.