John F. Kennedy photo

Proclamation 3436—National Day of Prayer, 1961

September 28, 1961

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Our founding fathers came to these shores trusting in God, and in reliance upon His grace. They charted the course of free institutions under a government deriving its powers from the consent of the people. In the General Congress assembled they appealed the rectitude of their intentions to the Supreme Judge of the world, and "with firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence" they mutually pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their most sacred honor.

During the deliberations in the Constitutional Convention they were called to daily prayers, with the reminder in sacred Scripture it is written that "except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build It," and they were warned that without the concurring aid of Providence they would succeed in the political building "no better than the builders of Babel."

In every succeeding generation the people of this country have emulated their fathers in defending their liberties with their fortunes and their lives.

Conscious of our continuing need to bring our actions under the searching light of Divine Judgment, the Congress of the United States by joint resolution approved on the seventeenth day of April 1952 provided that "The President shall set aside and proclaim a suitable day each year, other than a Sunday, as a National Day of Prayer, on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals."

Now, Therefore, I, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, do set aside and proclaim Wednesday, the fourth day of October 1961, as the National Day of Prayer.

Let us all pray, inviting as many as may be visitors in our country to join us in our prayers, each according to his own custom and faith, for our Nation and for all peoples everywhere in the world; and most especially—

For Divine guidance in our efforts to lead our children in the ways of truth; that they may have the best opportunities we can provide as an environment in which to grow in body, mind and spirit, and to the end they may be at their best in their day as the responsible trustees of the great heritage which has come to us from those who went before us;

For a spirit of wisdom and understanding, as we move toward new frontiers of cooperation and brotherhood to overcome the curse of hunger, of ignorance, of superstition and of disease, by harnessing scientific knowledge to moral purpose;

For willing hands and a spirit of dedication, that, in awareness that this Nation under God has achieved its great service to mankind through the toil and sacrifices and subordination of personal desires to common welfare, we may move forward in the unconquerable spirit of a free people, making whatever sacrifices that need be made to neutralize the evil designs of evil men, and to work for goals of human betterment that lie beyond our span of years;

For peace in our time with freedom and justice and dignity for all mankind; and

Recognizing our own shortcomings may we be granted forgiveness and cleansing, that God shall bless us and be gracious unto us, and cause His face to shine upon us as we stand everyone of us on this day in His Presence.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

DONE at the City of Washington this twenty-eighth day of September in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and sixty-one, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and eighty-sixth.

Signature of John F. Kennedy


By the President:


Acting Secretary of State.

John F. Kennedy, Proclamation 3436—National Day of Prayer, 1961 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives