National Day of Prayer Today

Beverly Kummerling takes part in a National Day of Prayer event on Independence Mall,Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Today is the 61th Annual Observance of The National Day of Prayer, a day in which millions of Americans head to their place of worship to offer up prayers.

The National Day of Prayer is typically observed on the first Thursday in May and reportedly predates the nation’s founding.

“The National Day of Prayer is a vital part of America’s heritage,” reads a statement on NationalDayOfPrayer.org. “Since the first call to prayer in 1775, when the Continental Congress asked the colonies to pray for wisdom in forming a nation, the call to prayer has continued through our history.”

The idea of a day dedicated to prayer has been around since 1775 but it wasn’t until 1952 that Congress established an annual day of prayer. In 1988, the law was amended to designate the first Thursday in May as the National Day of Prayer.

Since then, each year the president keeps the practice alive and signs a proclamation on the first Thursday of May, inviting all to take part in the day of prayer. According to the National Day Of Prayer website, this year, President Obama signed the Presidential Proclamation recognizing Thursday as the National Day of Prayer for 2012 and called upon individuals, “ to pray for guidance, grace, and protection for our great Nation as we address the challenges of our time.”

Special services will be provided at places of worship across the nation. On Long Island, Bethlehem Assembly of God in Valley Stream, Levittown Community Church and Medford Assembly of God will be among those providing special National Day of Prayer services Thursday.