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.
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.