The 64th annual National Day of Prayer is expected to have its largest number of participants in over 60 years on Thursday, May 7 in what organizers are calling an "unprecedented opportunity to see the Lord's healing and renewing power made manifest."
"We are anticipating the largest day of prayer from coast to coast with more than 43,000 prayer gatherings," John Bornschein, vice chairman of the National Day of Prayer Task Force and an executive member of the National Prayer Committee, told The Christian Post.
"This coming year marks the 64th anniversary of this important day and we fully expect that the president will sign a proclamation as well as all 50 state governors. Already nearly 40 proclamations have been received and counting."
According to the National Day of Prayer website, the theme of this year's event will be "Lord, Hear Our Cry" and is accompanied by the Bible verse 1 Kings 8:28, which reads "Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day."
The website notes that the theme was chosen specifically to emphasize the "need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men."
Though it has its roots in Christian heritage, the National Day of Prayer is meant to be an expression of American freedom of religion, where people of different religions dedicate the day to pray for our nation.
The National Day of Prayer, although unofficially observed since 1775, was signed into law as an official day of observance by Harry S. Truman in 1952. Since then, dozens of United States Presidents have signed proclamations in support of the date, calling upon Americans of all religions to pray for the benefit of the nation.
While many professing Christian presidents have historically given Christian proclamations, President Barack Obama has in recent years emphasized that the holiday encompasses all religions.
"Let us carry forward our Nation's tradition of religious liberty, which protects Americans' rights to pray and to practice our faiths as we see fit," said President Barack Obama in his 2014 proclamation.
"I invite the citizens of our Nation to give thanks, in accordance with their own faiths and consciences, for our many freedoms and blessings, and I join all people of faith in asking for God's continued guidance, mercy, and protection as we seek a more just world."
This year, Dr. Jack Graham, the former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be the Honorary Chairman for the National Day of Prayer. For the day's observances, which include rallies, church services, and prayer breakfasts, Dr. Graham penned a special prayer to be simultaneously read throughout the nation at noon, creating a "huge wave of prayer, flowing from one coast to the other, illustrating the unity of God's people and acknowledging His dominion over the circumstances facing us."
"At this crucial time for our nation, we can do nothing more important than pray," the National Day of Prayer website notes. "Thank you in advance for making this spiritual discipline a personal priority and for standing with us as we encourage others to incorporate prayer in their lives. The Lord has graciously annointed our efforts, empowering them to touch and change many hearts and lives."