President George Washington declared a National Day of Prayer after the Whiskey Rebellion, as did President John Adams when France threatened war, and President Madison during the War of 1812. President Tyler declared a Day of Prayer when President Harrison died, and as did President Taylor during a cholera epidemic. President Buchanan proclaimed a Day of Prayer to avert civil strife, as did Lincoln during the Civil War. President Andrew Johnson proclaimed a Day of Prayer when Lincoln was shot, as did President Wilson during World War I.
As much as liberals would like to hide our nation’s Christian heritage, it simply cannot be done. As we look back over our 240 years of history, it becomes impossible to deny that Christian beliefs and ideas had a profound impact on our Founding Fathers and the succeeding generations of elected leaders. Even those who are often thought of, arguably, as the least religious among our founders recognized the divine presence and power of Almighty God and sought His intervention in our affairs.
American liberals and atheists have fought against public prayer for decades, standing mainly on the false argument of separation of church and state. But even a brief look at the executive tradition on this day, May 4th, leaves no doubt to whom most of our commanders in chief have turned for help and given thanksgiving for protection.
In 1952, President Truman made the National Day of Prayer an annual event, stating: “In times of national crisis when we are striving to strengthen the foundations of peace…we stand in special need of Divine support.”
President Reagan placed this special day on the first Thursday in May, saying: “Americans in every generation have turned to their Maker in prayer…We have acknowledged both our dependence on Almighty God and the help He offers us as individuals and as a Nation… Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States…do…proclaim May 5, 1988, as a National Day of Prayer. I call upon the citizens of our great Nation to gather together on that day in homes and places of worship to pray.”