As has been tradition and law since 1952, President Barack Obama has declared May 5 as the annual "National Day of Prayer." The official day has been designated as the first Thursday in May since President Ronald Regan amended the Congressional resolution in 1988.
“The threats of poverty, violence, and war around the world are all too real,” Obama wrote in an official statement for the 2016 National Day of Prayer, according to the White House. “Our faith and our earnest prayers can be cures for the fear we feel as we confront these realities. Helping us resist despair, paralysis, or cynicism, prayer offers a powerful alternative to pessimism,” the president continued. “Through prayer, we often gain the insight to learn from our mistakes, the motivation to always be better, and the courage to stand up for what is right, even when it is not popular.”
According to FactCheck.org, viral claims have circulated on social media and through email since 2009 -- when Obama took office -- that he would be cancelling the National Day of Prayer. These claims are false. The tradition is set by Congress, and the president would need its approval to cancel it.
President Obama has broken with his predecessor’s tradition. Former President George W. Bush would hold a public service at the White House while he was in office. Obama has issued statements for each year, but does not hold public ceremonies.
“On this day, may our faiths enable us to sow the seeds of progress in our ever-changing world,” Obama wrote in his official statement. “Let us resolve to guide our children and grandchildren to embrace freedom for all, to see God in everyone, and to remember that no matter what differences they may have, they, just like we, will always be united by their common humanity.”