Here’s how you can participate in the National Day of Prayer

A photo of a family praying together

The Scouts Read Sacred texts emblemUPDATE: There’s a patch for this! As of April 11, 2024, Scouts from 108 councils have signed up to participate in this event. That’s around 1,355 youth who will be reading 293 combined hours of sacred texts. Participants can click here to purchase the patch. Many units and councils are ordering placing batch orders of patches to get better prices. Get yours now!

The National Day of Prayer is May 2, 2024, and the BSA’s National Religious Relationships Committee is inviting all Scouts and their families to participate by reading a portion of their own sacred text at 5:30 p.m. local time on that day.

“Our world needs the power of prayer and positive action more than ever,” says Jim Marchbank, chair of the council support subcommittee of the National Religious Relationships Committee. “We are inviting every Scout to read their sacred texts on this important day. This Duty to God event allows Scouts to broaden their faith and deepen their spirituality with their family in their homes or at their faith institution.”

Watch the video below to learn more about how you can participate in this historic effort, and read on to learn about a first-of-its-kind worldwide effort being organized by the National Religious Relationships Committee.

What is the National Day of Prayer?

The National Day of Prayer — held each year on the first Thursday of May — is a day of observance designed by Congress. Though its roots stretch all the way back to late 1700s, the modern law formalizing its observance was enacted in 1952.

The official bill reads in part: “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.”

Each year, the president issues a proclamation encouraging all Americans to pray on this day.

Click here to read the 2023 proclamation.

How can Scouts participate?

The BSA’s National Religious Relationships Committee is encouraging Scouts to read their own sacred text at 5:30 p.m. local time on the National Day of Prayer.

Scouts can:

  • Read their text at home with their family;
  • Talk to their faith leader about reading at their faith location;
  • Ask a Scout friend to join them either at home or at their faith location.
  • And yes, there will be a patch!

Click here to learn more and to sign up.

A photo of Scouts praying at the National Jamboree

What is Duty to God?

Duty to God has been one of the most important principles of Scouting from the beginning. In 1916, James E. West, the BSA’s first Chief Scout Executive, helped install what is now known as the “Declaration of Religious Principle” into the original BSA constitution and by-laws.

The Scout Oath begins with, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country.”

The Scout Law ends with, “A Scout is reverent. Be reverent toward God. Be faithful in your religious duties. Respect the beliefs of others.”

By participating in the National Day of Prayer, Scouts and their families will be taking a few moments to pause and reflect on their spirituality.

Is there any kind of nationwide Scouting event to commemorate the National Day of Prayer?

In fact, there’s a worldwide event.

A handful of Scout councils are joining forces to represent the Scouting movement by reading the entire sacred texts of the Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim faiths from start to finish, with different Scouts across the globe reading for 15 minutes each. Additionally, Scouts representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Eastern Orthodox, Sikh, Hindu and other faiths will be also reading their sacred texts.

The initiative is called Scouts Read Sacred Texts Worldwide.

It begins when Scouts from the Far East Council begin reading portions of their text at 5:30 local time in Japan. Then, Scouts from the Transatlantic Council in Rome pick up where the Far East Council Scouts left off.

The reading continues with Scouts from the Susquehanna Council (Pennsylvania), the Atlanta Area Council, Dan Beard Council (Ohio), Greater St. Louis Council, Greater Alabama Council, Heart of America Council (Missouri), Longhorn Council (Texas), Three Fires Council (Illinois) and finally the Silicon Valley Monterey Bay Council (California).

Each council will be promoting its efforts in their own way. Bookmark this page and check back regularly for updates.

Top photo by Getty Images. BSA file photo by Kathy Disney

About Aaron Derr 448 Articles
Aaron Derr is the senior editor of Scout Life and Scouting magazines, and also a former Cubmaster and Scouts BSA volunteer.