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The National Day of Prayer (NDP) in the U.S.

Overview: NDP dates and themes.

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The acronym "NDP" refers both to the National Day of Prayer in the U.S. and to the New Democratic Party, a socialist political party, in Canada. There is no connection between the two NDPs.

The National Day of Prayer (NDP) is held on the first Thursday in May, according to Federal statute. Dates were/are:

bullet 2010-MAY-06
bullet 2011-MAY-05, the 60th annual observance.
bullet 2012-MAY-03.
bullet 2013-MAY-02.

America's National Prayer Committee created the National Day of Prayer Task Force (NDPTF) to coordinate NDP activities among local evangelical Christian groups in the U.S. 1,2 The actual prayer events are organized by independent evangelical Christian groups in a multitude of towns and cities. Groups include: conservative Christian congregations, March for Jesus organizations, conservative Protestant schools, conservative Protestant para-church organizations, etc. Many are prayer breakfasts; others are public gatherings; still others are church services. 6

NDP events are also organized by non-Evangelical Christian groups, by non-Christian groups, and by interfaith groups. However, we are unaware of any national group which coordinates these events in the same way as the NDPTF does for Evangelical observations of the NDP.

The NDPTF is based in Colorado Springs, CO and rents their facilities from Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian group which promotes conservative Evangelical beliefs about the raising of children, power sharing between spouses, spanking, prayer in the public schools, rights of homosexuals, abortion access, and many other topics. The task force has been led for many years by Shirley Dobson. She is the wife of James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family. Her predecessor was Vonette Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ.

The public gatherings are often held at City Halls across the U.S. One reason for this is that prayers are offered to government leaders at all levels. Although people of all wings of Christianity and of all other religions are welcome to attend these public events, the meetings are generally exclusively evangelical Christian in terms of the prayers offered and the leadership.

The 1999 Day of Prayer came a few weeks after the mass murder and suicide of 14 students and one teacher at Littleton, CO. Other Days have occurred during the Kosovo crisis in the former Yugoslavia, during the invasion of Iraq, and shortly after the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Turnout was particularly high during those years. Currently, 40,000 volunteers expected to organize tens of thousands of prayer events across the U.S. Countless individuals pray privately.

Themes selected by the NDPTF:

The National Day of Prayer Task Force has selected an annual theme for those NDP events that it coordinates. Note that these are intended for evangelical Christian expressions of the NDP. Non-evangelical Christian groups who organize separate NDP events generally choose their own themes:

The NDPTF has chosen the following themes:

bullet1996: "Honor God."

bullet1997: "In God we trust"

bullet1998: "America, return to God."

bullet1999: "Light the nation...with prayer." It is based on Bible verses Matthew 5:14-15: "Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do (men) light a lamp, and put it under the bushel, but on the stand; and it shineth unto all that are in the house." (ASV)

bullet2000: "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." It is a direct quotation from the New International Version of the Bible, Romans 12:12.

bullet2001: "One Nation, Under God."

bullet2002: "America United Under God."

bullet2003: "Righteousness Exalts A Nation." This is extracted from Proverbs 14:34 "Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people." (NIV)

bullet2004: "Let Freedom Ring" Leviticus 25:10

bullet2005: "God Shed His Grace on Thee."

bullet2006: "Honor God" from 1 Samuel 2:30

bullet2007: "America, Unite in Prayer" from 2 Chronicles 7:14

bullet2008: "Prayer! America's Strength and Shield" from Psalm 28:7

bullet2009: "Prayer ... America's Hope," from Psalm 33:22

bullet 2010: "Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway." from Proverbs  8:34

bullet 2011: "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", from Psalm 91:2 which states: "I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust."


2012: "One Nation under God" It was extracted from the current wording of the Pledge of Allegiance. This is a repeat of the 2001 theme. It is a phrase that divides the nation into two groups:

  • Believers in one or more gods (theists) and
  • Many unbelievers such as Atheists and Agnostics who have no such belief.
bullet 2013: "Pray for America” from Matthew 12:21

A Nationally Broadcast Concert of Prayer (NBCOP) is broadcast over a network of conservative Christian television and radio stations, and over the Internet on the evening of the Day of Prayer.

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  1. America's National Prayer Committee sponsors many Evangelical Christian projects, including the National Day of Prayer, the Nationally Broadcast Concert of Prayer, Pray! Magazine, and the Denominational Prayer Leaders Network. Their web site is at:
  2. National Day of Prayer Task Force is at:
    bulletTelephone: (719) 531-3379
    bullet Web site: or
  3. "Regional list of prayer events," Prayer for America, at:

Site navigation:

Home > Christianity > Christian history, etc > Prayer > NDP > here

Home > Christianity > History, beliefs... > Practices > Prayer > NDP > here

or Home > Spiritual topics > NDP > here

or Home > Religious information > NDP > here

Copyright © 1999 to 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1999-MAY-5
Most recent update: 2013-APR-14
Author: B.A. Robinson

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