This National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide was co-written by Gina of GinaMPoirier.com and Brittany of EquippingGodlyWomen.com.
This Spring, our country (the US) will celebrate National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 6, 2021.
Originally signed into law in 1952, National Day of Prayer is a day when people of all faiths are asked to pray for our nation.
Title 36, Section 119 of US law states:
“The President shall issue each year a proclamation designating the first Thursday in May as a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.”
This means the National Day of Prayer isn’t just a fun holiday — The President is legally required to sign a proclamation encouraging Americans to pray each year!
And in this National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know to celebrate this important yearly holiday!
History of the National Day of Prayer 2021
Although the National Day of Prayer was officially signed into law in 1952 by President Harry S. Truman, the practice of praying over our country was really nothing new.
Ever since our nation’s founding, our nation’s leaders have always called for days of prayer, thanksgiving, and fasting.
In fact, according to Wikipedia, National Day of Prayer began similarly to Thanksgiving:
“In the New England Colonies under British rule, traditional observances in late fall called for prayer and thanksgiving, while observances in the spring or summer called for prayer and fasting. The fall observance was established by President Abraham Lincoln as the official Thanksgiving holiday in 1863. The spring observance was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1952 as the National Day of Prayer.”
While National Day of Prayer certainly isn’t as widely accepted as Thanksgiving, it is a widespread and much-loved tradition that still takes place every year!
**By the way, if you still have questions or want additional resources after reading this National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide, the website NationalDayofPrayer.org has TONS of great resources to help you celebrate this important holiday as well.
Do Only Christians Celebrate National Day of Prayer?
While National Day of Prayer is often thought of as a Christian holiday, it is not exclusive only to Christians. Many people of faith celebrate National Day of Prayer, including Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. Anyone of any faith can participate!
In fact, over 40,000 prayer gatherings are held every year—at churches, courthouses, mosques, synagogues, temples, and schools—which means millions of people are in prayer on this day.
Personally, I find it inspiring that so many people can put aside their differences and do this one thing together!
And this National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide will show you how you can take part as well–no matter what you believe about prayer.
National Day of Prayer 2021 Theme
Each year, the President signs a new proclamation for National Day of Prayer, and each year has a slightly different theme or focus.
Not surprisingly, the theme of the 2021 National Day of Prayer is love, life, and liberty.
Last year’s proclamation begins…
“In our times of greatest need, Americans have always turned to prayer to help guide us through trials and periods of uncertainty. As we continue to face the unique challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans are unable to gather in their churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship. But in this time we must not cease asking God for added wisdom, comfort, and strength, and we must especially pray for those who have suffered harm or who have lost loved ones. I ask you to join me in a day of prayer for all people who have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic and to pray for God’s healing hand to be placed on the people of our Nation.”
**We will update this post to have the official proclamation when it becomes available, or you can keep an eye out for it here: Proclamations on the National Day of Prayer.
National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide
There aren’t any specific rules for when and how to pray on National Day of Prayer, so it’s pretty much impossible to do it wrong.
Still, it can be incredibly helpful to have a National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide to offer ideas and suggestions for what to pray, if you’re feeling stuck on ideas.
Not sure what to pray? Here’s a list of things to pray for on National Day of Prayer:
- The President (Joe Biden)
- The Vice President (Kamala Harris)
- Future elections (that the right person will be elected)
- Our nation’s military
- For our country’s leaders to have wisdom in decision making
- For our country to submit to God and His authority
Prefer to choose topics specifically in line with the National Day of Prayer 2021 theme? Here are a few suggestions specific to 2021:
- Our nation to unite
- Our nation’s leaders to focus on liberty
- Our nation to be more compassionate and understanding with one another
- Our nation to learn to respect life – ALL life
5 Types of Prayer to Include in Your National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide
While it’s natural to begin with prayers that ASK God for things, you don’t want to fall into the trap of only asking, asking, asking.
(And this National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide wouldn’t be very complete if we only offered you one type of prayer!)
That’s why — in addition to praying for our countries leaders and those affected by this year’s Covid-19 pandemic — here are 5 additional types of prayers you may want to pray for National Day of Prayer 2021.
1. Prayers of Confession
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
I’m starting with this suggestion because it makes me feel a little squirmy. But experience has taught me that my prayers are more authentic when I speak from a place of humility.
Many of the great prayers of the Bible are of confession, either for an individual or for whole people groups. Let me be clear, however; the purpose of confession is not to feel ashamed and guilty. It’s to step forward in the ongoing restoration and healing in our relationships with God and the people around us.
I think confession is an especially powerful approach on the National Day of Prayer because so many of our communities are hurting.
Be specific in confession: How have you or your community fallen short? How would you like to change?
2. Prayers of Praise and Gratitude
I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
While it can be very easy to focus on everything that’s wrong with our nation today (especially in light of the current pandemic), the truth is that there is a LOT of good in the world too — we just have to be intentional about looking for it.
And National Day of Prayer is a wonderful opportunity to praise the Lord for what He has done and what He continues to do in our nation and in our communities. It’s also an opportunity to praise and thank him for who He is, which has never changed.
What unexpected blessings has God given you in this season? In what ways has He provided for your family or helped keep you safe?
3. Prayers for God’s Kingdom
…Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
One of Jesus’ main teachings points throughout the Gospels (that is often overlooked, in my opinion) is the kingdom of God. What He’s referring to is God’s reign and authority on earth—even when it doesn’t look that way.
What a powerful thing to pray about on the National Day of Prayer: that in the face of the darkness and suffering that we hear about every day, God’s authority and goodness would shine through.
As scary at the current pandemic can be, the truth is that the things that trouble us (of the world) are only temporary.
How can you pray about the things (of God’s kingdom) that will last forever?
4. Prayers for Our Families and Communities
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
These types of prayers are typically the easiest, because your family and your community are the people you care about most!
The National Day of Prayer is another opportunity to lift up those you love, along with millions of others’ loved ones.
You can pray for the health, faith, safety and well-being of people like:
- Your spouse
- Your kids
- Your parents
- Your siblings and their families
- Your neighbors
- Your church
- Your kids’ teachers
- Who else can you pray for today?
5. Prayers for Those Suffering and in Need
Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
This category could go on forever…because the impoverished, the suffering and those who need justice will always be among us.
On this National Day of Pray, you could pray for those in the U.S. and abroad, including:
- The homeless
- The hungry
- The lonely
- The heartbroken
- Those living in fear of violence and abuse
- Victims of human trafficking and slavery
- The persecuted
- Migrants and refugees
- The unborn in threat of abortion, as well as their parents
- Orphans and children whose families can’t or won’t care for them
- Widows and the elderly who don’t have love and support
- The sick (physically, emotionally and spiritually)
- The wounded (physically, emotionally and spiritually)
- Those without access to basic needs like clean water, healthcare and education
- Who else is God putting on your heart to pray for today?
This is not an exhaustive list of things to pray for, but I think it’s enough to keep us all pretty busy!
Are you participating in National Day of Prayer 2021? What are you praying for personally? Anything from this National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide?
Guest post by Gina of GinaMPoirier.com.
Gina is a happily married mom of three, stress management coach and writer who helps overwhelmed, exhausted moms find peace and purpose in the everyday. Check out free resources for Christian moms at ginampoirier.com.