When faced with a situation that caused great concern to the Colonists, the first thing our Founding Fathers did was to pray. Their prayer was met with anger by the political powers. This led to the establishment of the Continental Congress which ultimately led to the Declaration of Independence. And it all began with fasting, humiliation, and prayer. After the Boston Tea Party, King George punished the city by instituting the Boston Port Act, March 7, 1774, effectively closing the harbor to all commerce. Upon hearing of the Boston Port Act, Thomas Jefferson drafted a Day of Fasting, Humiliation & Prayer resolution, to be observed the same day the blockade was to commence. It was introduced in the Virginia House of Burgesses by Robert Carter Nicholas, May 24, 1774 and was supported by Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason. It passed unanimously. It was to be “a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Divine interposition, for averting the heavy calamity which threatens destruction to our civil rights.” The King’s appointed Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, was so angered by this Day of Fasting, Humiliation & Prayer resolution that two days later he dissolved Virginia’s House of Burgesses. Virginia’s colonial leaders went down the street and gathered in Raleigh Tavern, where they decided to form a Continental Congress which met in Philadelphia a little over three months later. Less than two years after that, the Continental Congress voted for Independence. Many today are concerned with the existing and potential loss of freedoms in our nation. Many today are angry over the injustices which seem to abound in our nation. While there are actions which can be taken to stand against such wrongs, those actions are pointless unless we begin with prayer. And not just any prayer. It must be the prayer of a contrite, humble, and yes - humiliated - people who acknowledge that God and God alone is their source of help. By fasting and praying we place ourselves in the proper attitude of submission that will lead to actions which can and will produce results. So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. ~1 Peter 5:6~
By the President of the United States of America
Whereas the Senate of the United States, devoutly recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; and
Whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;
And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do by this my proclamation designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting, and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite at their several places of public worship and their respective homes in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins and the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State .
Tomorrow. the first Thursday of May, is the National Day of Prayer.
In 1952, Congress passed a bill stating that every president would proclaim a Day of National Prayer on a date of his/her choosing. The first Thursday of May was set as the National Day of Prayer in 1988, but days of fasting, humiliation, and prayer have been practiced since before our nation’s founding. John Adams, on March 23, 1798, issued the following proclamation.
“As the safety and prosperity of nations ultimately and essentially depend on the protection and the blessing of Almighty God, and the national acknowledgment of this truth is not only an indispensable duty which the people owe to Him, but a duty whose natural influence is favorable to the promotion of that morality and piety without which social happiness can not exist nor the blessings of a free government be enjoyed. . .
I have therefore thought fit to recommend, and I do hereby recommend, that Wednesday, the 9th day of May next, be observed throughout the United States as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting, and prayer.”
Fast and Pray for America!
Politicians can talk freely of what they will do to rebuild America — grand plans and designs, budget reforms and tax reforms, imports and exports, peace at home and peace abroad, safety and security. “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’ How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.” (James 4:13-16)
Now is the time to trust God instead of the plans of those who do nothing but boast of what they will do.
I know it’s Friday, but today is Black Tuesday – the 92nd Anniversary of the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the beginning of the Great Depression. Now, I don’t want to depress you, but at that time America had just gone through the end of World War 1 (1914-1918 although the USA didn’t get involved until 1917) and the Spanish Flu epidemic (1918-1919.) Those events were followed by a period of economic growth we know as the Roaring 20’s. From 1921 to 1929 the stock market grew by 539% from 72 points to 381 points. During this same time period the economy grew by 42%. While there are many political and financial events that had some impact on the 1929 crash, I think this cartoon, published in the Los Angeles Times in 1926, may give some insight into another problem of the Roaring 20’s that may have led to the Great Depression. God has a way of correcting things that we may not always see. I’m not saying that we are headed for such a correction 100 years later. However, as stated by George Santayana, an American philosopher, in his work, The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
Evil is real. Demonic forces are active in ways we witness everyday in every aspect of our lives. “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NLT) So, if that’s the case, our response to the evil in our world must be in the realm of the demonic and the response to evil must be in the name and power of Jesus. In Luke 8 we see one of many times when Jesus displayed His authority over demons. When we go up against Satan’s demonic forces in our own power, we lose. When we go up against Satan’s demonic forces in the power and name and authority of Jesus we win. Furthermore, the only hope that our family, friends, and acquaintances have in this realm of such forces is in Jesus. Therefore, we must be diligent in introducing them to Him. A chaotic life that ends in eternal death is what lies before them. The man in Luke 8 was living in chaos and headed for a tragic end before he met Jesus. Our world, our nation, our state, our county, our town, our neighbors, our work associates, and our family members need to know the victorious power found only in Jesus. That’s how we should respond to the evil in our world.
This Bible study was presented to the Agape Life Bible Study Class of the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on Sunday, September 26, 2021. Handouts with slide content can be requested at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We love to proclaim our God-given freedoms and complain loudly if we think those freedoms have been “abridged.” We watch with great concern as the Supreme Court renders decisions on any aspect of those freedoms afforded us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. We complain about laws and regulations that restrict our rights or the rights of others and we petition the government through our elected representatives and through our personal efforts and protests when such grievances arise. However, perhaps the greatest deterrent to our living out our faith – of freely exercising our religion – is us.
It is our own complacency and our failure to “exercise” our faith by using the freedoms we share in this country. It is our own fault that we don’t use our freedom of speech to boldly proclaim the truth and hope of Christ – everyday, everywhere we go, to everyone we meet. It is our own fault that we don’t use platforms like digital media to publish our belief in the God who created the universe and yet wants to have a personal relationship with us. It is our own fault that we choose a thousand other activities to supplant the assembling of ourselves together in corporate worship. It’s our own fault. We can’t blame the government or other people who don’t share our beliefs. It’s all on us. We are not making full use of the freedoms we have as Americans to share the Gospel message of Jesus. We have used our freedom to pursue selfish and pointless goals that at best relegate God to a small part of our weekly schedule or, at worst, push Him out of our lives completely. We have squandered our freedom while ignoring the One who gave us the freedom in the first place.
So, Christian – before you moan and complain about how someone is trampling on your rights, look at your own life and see if you have been actively exercising those rights to further the cause of Christ. Have you taken advantage of your rights as an American citizen to tell others about the grace of God found in Jesus? Have you taken advantage of your rights as an American citizen to proclaim your faith in Christ through your personal actions and through your involvement with others who wish to do the same. The free exercise of religion includes the freedom of speech, of the press, and the right of the people peaceably to assemble. What a gift we have been given in the United States of America. Let us no longer use our God-given gift of freedom to trample on the very rights He has given us.
Scripture has much to say about the relationship between Christians and the governments under which they live. We are told in Romans 13:1 that no authority exists except by God and that authorities that do exist have been established by God. We know we are to render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s, but we must also remember that we have been given a roll of support for those in governing positions. In 2 Peter 2:17 we were told to honor the emperor. In Romans 13:1 and in 1 Peter 2:13 we are told to submit to the governing authorities. In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we are told to pray for those in authority over us – for those who are in high positions. We are to intercede on their behalf and give thanks for them. This last one is rather hard to do when our personal beliefs and opinions are at times the exact opposite of those in authority and yet, the command is there and we have no choice as followers of Christ but to submit to that command.
However, an even more sobering thought is that, in America, We the People are the ultimate authority. We the People are the ones in charge. We the People are the ones who decide who comes and goes in those higher places. We the People are responsible. The buck stops with us. So if we pray for those in authority, perhaps the most significant prayers should be offered for ourselves – We the People. Until we the People are on solid footing in total subjection to our Supreme commander, the Lord God almighty, then our decisions as the governing authorities in America are flawed at best and disastrous at worst. We really can’t blame the governing authorities because the governing authorities are us. We can’t point to Washington or to our state capitals as the source of our societal evils when we ourselves will not acknowledge the sin that so easily entangles us.
It’s time to pray for America and those who are in positions of authority. It’s time to pray that We the People will come to recognize God as the one who has placed us in this position of leadership in our country and act accordingly. May God Bless America and may god bless us as individual Americans who must assume our God-given and constitutionally-mandated responsibilities as the governing authorities of our great nation.