President Barack Obama has designated Thursday, May 5 as the 2016 National Day of Prayer, an annual tradition that dates back to the Truman administration.
"In times of steady calm and extraordinary change alike, Americans of all walks of life have long turned to prayer to seek refuge, demonstrate gratitude, and discover peace," Obama said in a statement from the White House. "Sustaining us through great uncertainty and moments of sorrow, prayer allows us an outlet for introspection, and for expressing our hopes, desires, and fears. It offers strength in the face of hardship, and redemption when we falter. Our country was founded on the idea of religious freedom, and we have long upheld the belief that how we pray and whether we pray are matters reserved for an individual's own conscience.
"On National Day of Prayer, we rededicate ourselves to extending this freedom to all people."
The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 and signed into law by President Harry S. Truman. The title is bestowed upon the first Thursday in May.
"As a Nation free to practice our faith as we choose, we must remember those around the world who are not afforded this freedom, and we must recommit to building a society where all can enjoy this liberty and live their lives in peace and dignity," Obama said.
"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."
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