National Day of Prayer 2023 – a Complete Guide

🌺  Written by Gina

This National Day of Prayer 2023 Guide was co-written by Gina of and Brittany of

 National Day of Prayer Prayer Guide - Updated for 2021!

Looking for ways to pray for our nation in 2023? 

In an age when we’re constantly bombarded with fear-inducing news headlines, the call to prayer is as relevant as ever.

The National Day of Prayer is a federal observance that anyone can participate in, regardless of beliefs or faith background, whether we’re in peace or in times of crisis.

Here’s how you can participate.


Scroll down to find:


What is the National Day of Prayer?


Originally signed into law in 1952, the National Day of Prayer in the U.S. 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 of the United States of America is legally required to sign a proclamation encouraging Americans to pray each year!

And in this National Day of Prayer 2023 Guide, we’re sharing everything you need to know to celebrate this important yearly observance!


When is National Day of Prayer 2023?


The United States of America will celebrate this year’s National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 4, 2023. It is observed annually on the first Thursday in May.


National Day of Prayer History


Although the National Day of Prayer was officially signed into law in 1952, 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 fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving. Prayer has been an integral part of daily life for centuries.


In 1775, the Continental Congress made a proclamation that stated “a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer” be created. According to Wikipedia, this first National Day of Prayer began similarly to Thanksgiving, as there were fall and spring observances:


“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.

In 1863, during the Civil War, President Lincoln signed a congressional resolution that made April 30 a day of fasting and prayer. After it was signed into law by President Truman in the early 1950s following a joint resolution in Congress, President Ronald Reagan signed an amended law in 1988 that placed it annually on the first Thursday of May.


Each year, the President signs a new proclamation for the National Day of Prayer.

Last year’s proclamation begins…

“Throughout our history, prayer has been an anchor for countless Americans searching for strength and wisdom in times of struggle and sharing hope and gratitude in seasons of joy.  In public reflections on life’s many blessings and in quiet moments during life’s most difficult trials, Americans of nearly every background and faith have turned to prayer for comfort and inspiration.  Prayer is a sacred right protected by free speech and religious liberty enshrined in our Constitution, and it continues to lift our spirits as we navigate the challenges of our time.”


**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.



Do Only Christians Celebrate National Day of Prayer?


While the National Day of Prayer is often thought of as a Christian observance, it is not exclusive only to Christians. Many people of different faiths observe the National Day of Prayer as an expression of their spiritual lives, 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 participating in this day of prayer, many at interdenominational prayer events.

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 2023 Guide will show you how you can take part as well—no matter what you believe about prayer.


National Day of Prayer 2023 Theme


The theme of the National Day of Prayer 2023 in the U.S. is “Pray Fervently in Righteousness and Avail Much.” This is from James 5:16b, which reads, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (NKJV).

This theme is chosen each year by the National Day of Prayer Task Force, a Christian nonprofit organization that helps organize and coordinate prayers for our nation throughout the country on this annual observance.


**By the way, if you still have questions or want additional resources after reading this National Day of Prayer Prayer 2023 Guide, the website has TONS of great resources to help you celebrate this important holiday as well.


10 Ways to Pray for Our Country on National Day of Prayer 2023


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 some guidance and suggestions about what to pray for.

You can start by praying these prayers for our nation, and then continue with other types of prayer if you feel moved to do so.


1. The President (Joe Biden)


Regardless of what your political affiliations are, the President needs our prayers, just as 1 Timothy 2:1–2 instructs. Pray that he may lead the country in peace and wisdom and protect people’s liberties.


2. The Vice President (Kamala Harris)


Likewise, the person second in command behind the President needs prayers for wisdom in her leadership.


3. Congress


Leaders in both the Senate and the House of Representatives need prayers that they will represent the people and maintain honesty and integrity and all they do.


4. Regional and Local Leaders


In addition to national leaders, pray that the people in state and local offices may govern with wisdom, integrity, and peace.


5. The Military, Law Enforcement, and Their Families


Men and women in uniform put their lives at stake every day to protect freedom. Pray for their safety and for their families to be cared for.


6. Future Elections


Even if 2023 isn’t a major election year, candidates are mobilizing for 2024 campaigns. Pray that the right people to bring about God’s will are put in the right places.


7. Submission to God and His Authority


Ultimately, God rules over everything and His will shall be done. Pray that the government submits to His will and authority in everything.


8. Respect for Life—ALL life


The debate over the sanctity of life and how to protect it is nothing new, but it continues to be relevant on many levels in 2023. Pray that those who cannot protect themselves from injustice are delivered from harm.


9. Protection of Liberty and Freedom


Freedom is a great privilege and a concept that this country was founded on. Pray that it is protected for all citizens of our nation, regardless of race, gender, religion, age, cultural background, and any other factors.


10. That Justice Prevails


While God is the one who will distribute justice, you can pray that what is right may prevail in our earthly courts of law.


5 Types of Prayer to Include in National Day of Prayer 2023


In addition to praying for our country’s leaders and the governing authorities, here are 5 additional types of prayers you may want to pray for National Day of Prayer 2023.


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.

Psalm 51:3–4


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 and personal repentance.

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.

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.

Psalm 9:1


While it can be very easy to focus on everything that’s wrong with our nation today, the truth is that there is a LOT of good in the world too — we just have to be intentional about looking for it.

The 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?


Related: How to Get Closer to God When You’re Feeling Distant


3. Prayers for God’s Kingdom


…Your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as it is in heaven.

Matthew 6:10


One of Jesus’ main teachings points throughout the Gospels 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 2023: 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 as current events 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?


Related: How to Seek the Kingdom of God First (Matthew 6:33)


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.

Philippians 4:6-7


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 2023 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?


Related: 5 Powerful Prayers Every Wife Should Pray Over Her Husband


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.

Psalm 82:3–4


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 Prayer 2023, 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, oppressed and wrongly accused
  • 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/widowers 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! Alternatively, you may be interested in checking out this list of things to pray for from the Bible or this printable prayer journal that can give you lots of ideas.


Are you participating in National Day of Prayer 2023? What are you praying for personally? 


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Gina Poirier is a happily married mom of five, stress management coach and writer who helps overwhelmed, exhausted moms find peace and purpose in the everyday. You can find her at her website,

Gina Poirier

About the author

Gina Poirier is a happily married mom of five, stress management coach and writer who helps overwhelmed, exhausted moms find peace and purpose in the everyday. You can find her at her website,

  1. Please pray for me that my employer will return me to full time work again. My hours were cut to part time after I had to be off work for 2 1/2 weeks due to having symptoms of the coronavirus. I need full time work in order to pay the bills and to buy food.

    Thank you!

    1. I’m so sorry to hear that! I hope things go back to normal for you shortly ?

  2. Dear Gina,
    I was glad to read your post referring to the National Day of Prayer but alarmed by the equation of all/any faith prayer as if all prayer is the same. The ONE PRAYER that this nation needs MOST OF ALL is for The CHURCH, (as descrided in Matthew 16) to BE the CHURCH for in my words, ***AS the CHURCH GOES SO-GOES-THE-NATION*** as it is written: BLESSED IS THE NATION WHOSE GOD IS THE LORD. (NOT gods – not prayers to demoic …).
    PLEASE understand, l do not want to start controversy BUT even more I don’t want to compromise the distinction between the Church as set apart by those born of the Holy Spirit and any others! I write this here because YOU (web page ‘keeper’) are set as a truth bearer and the TRUTH is Jesus plus nothing less. (Yes, I saw the phrase `not an exhaustive list’ and NO I am not perfect nor anyone’s judge – don’t want to be a judge). You see, I am willing that I would be hated for the sake of His truth. Please understand, I risk being misunderstood because of my devotion for THE LORD JESUS, THE truth, HIS CHURCH, and even from the results of the many compromises of those presently identifing themselves as a church and even my own scares of compromises. So, if any of this post edidfies, let’s praise our Lord together! If ANY of it afflicts forgive me for love’s sake.

    To/for/if those whose who have NOT come under the Lordship of Jesus, (life LIVING UNDER any other way, no matter how mentally comfortable that life might be, (there are ways that seem but they are not) there IS a way for your prayers to be heard: [here it is] YOU, must be born again by the Holy Spirit!

    1. Hi John, thanks for your comment and for pointing out that it is very important to pray for the collective church, now and always. We could have put more emphasis on this, but as you pointed out, this isn’t an exhaustive list. I’m in agreement to submit Jesus’ lordship, 100%. However, I’m not sure I would agree with your opinion that there is “one prayer” that our nation or any nation “needs most” that is evident in the Scriptures. That’s not really the point of our article anyway; rather, we’d like to inspire people to pray as the Holy Spirit leads them with a few ideas to get them started.

  3. Love this list and guide! Just what I was looking for. Another to add to the list of who to pray for:
    I have been convicted of late to pray for those I perceive to be our enemies- which is another thing Jesus told us to do. It is through praying for our enemies that we can change the world. Perhaps they need to be protected from Satan’s arrows and we can protect them so they will see God. I pray they will see Gods light so their followers will be turned to God and none shall be lost. Now that is a way to change the country!
    Thanks for your post!

  4. Thank you for the Prayer Guide and for allowing space for comment even if it differs. This casts such a positive light on your love and integrity. Likewise, I paused at the submission “ALL PRAYERS,” opening the Day to all beliefs. I appreciate the other comment and your response. My heart and mind has been expanded by your content. Looking forward to including this Guide into my own list.

  5. Thank you for including part of last year’s proclamation! I was disappointed to read the 2021 Presidential Proclamation for the National Day of Prayer because the name of God was not mentioned at all except at the end in the date “year of our lord”. The messages in the 2021 proclamation were nice sounding platitudes but they did not truthfully or accurately describe the current condition of our country.
    I pray that more Americans draw closer to God and share his words and teachings in 2021.

  6. Praying to Unite of the Body of Christ. We are many but still one, as God said Pray for our Nation, and He would extend time for winning souls into the Kingdom. As God, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are three but One, So goes the Body of Christ, We are many but as His Body we are One. A Body does not function with sickness in the it. As sickness destroys the Human Body, It destroys His Body the Church. Church, Unite together we are one, His Body. Let God's LOVE prevail in our hearts. Let His Mercy and Grace bring the church together as ONE BODY. Amen

  7. I have NEVER seen this country in this terrible shape, ever. The greatest overall warning to us, yes, ever was Covid. Over 2 years now, and continuing. More turning away from God than anytime in his country's history. If prayer is EVER needed, it certainly is NOW! We are just about done if we don't turn to God now!

  8. Dear John,

    I agree that including "any/all faith's prayers are acceptable to God on our National Day of Prayer is not biblical. We can and must include all people wanting to join us if they wish, but let's not lead anyone astray in implying that Jehovah God, the God our nation was founded upon, hears and answers all prayers. If Islamic followers, Hindu followers, etc. offer up prayer in the name of false Gods , Allah or Mohammed etc. they will not be heard and answered by the one true God, Jehovah in the name of his Son, Jesus. . But the cry of the sincere heart wanting to know the one true God will be answered. He will manifest himself to that one. He will in no way cast aside that precious one who comes searching for Truth. The love of God that is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit draws all men unto himself. The doctrine that many paths lead to God is heresy. There is only one way to God and Eternal Life. And that life is in the Son. The Word of God in 1 John 5:9-13 says "he who has the Son of God has life." Whoever wants peace with God, anybody that wants to go to heaven and have Eternal life, must accept Jesus the Son of God as his only Savior . Jesus is the only sinless sacrifice. Only the blood of the Lamb of God, God's own son would be acceptable for the payment of mankind's sin and providing the way by the shedding his blood for the remission of our sins. We must repent(turn away from) of our sins and accept what Jesus did for us on the cross. Then we will be born again as the Scripture has said we must do (

  9. Hello I am honored to pray on National Prayer Day. We normally have a gathering in front of a church. But this year we are doing zoom. Pray for us we would like to some day have our own building.

    May God continue to bless you!

    1. So glad that you are still able to host a gathering through Zoom for National Day of Prayer!

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