National Day of Prayer will be observed at noon Thursday on the lawn at the Crawford County Courthouse in downtown Van Buren.

Area leaders, pastors and businessmen will lead prayers for the area as well as the nation, according to David King, one of the organizers of the annual event.

King said there also will be pre-event worship.

In the event of rain, National Day of Prayer will be moved to the Van Buren First Baptist Church chapel.

Through the efforts of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, more than 35,000 prayer gatherings will be conducted by about 40,000 volunteers across the United States. Several million people are expected to participate in this call to prayer. Some celebrities, such as popular musician and Grammy Award winner Ricky Skaggs, will join millions of Americans in praying for the nation.

Other events in various communities across the United States may include: choirs and bands performing songs relating to prayer; community prayer breakfasts or luncheons; daytime prayer walks; and evening worship and prayer services or gatherings. National Day of Prayer is a time for people of all faiths to pray together in their own way.

In 1775 the Continental Congress allocated a time for prayer in forming a new nation. Over the years, there have been calls for a day of prayer, including from President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. On April 17, 1952, President Harry Truman signed a bill proclaiming the National Day of Prayer into law in the United States. President Reagan amended the law in 1988, designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer.

The National Prayer Committee was formed in the United States in 1972. It went on to create the National Day of Prayer Task Force, with the intended purpose of coordinating events for the National Day of Prayer.