2020 | Week of July 27 | Radio Transcript #1370
As the COVID crisis was escalating, President Trump called for a National Day of Prayer, on Sunday, March 15. In a Tweet, the president said, “We are a Country that, throughout our history, has looked to God for protection and strength in times like these….”
President Trump was right. We have a long and storied history of our leaders praying and of our leaders calling the nation to prayer. In fact, in the early years of our country, the national calls were usually for days of fasting and prayer and sometimes even of what was referred to as “public humiliation.”
As you read these prayers and the declarations, it’s hard to miss the overtones of II Chronicles 7: 14, ” If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Of course, this passage is specific in promise to Israel, but its principles are applicable to any nation. With that in mind, let’s consider some of the prayers and calls to prayer and acts of worship during the Revolutionary War era.
In June of 1774, following several acts of aggression by the British, Thomas Jefferson, drafted a declaration for a Day of Fasting. It passed unanimously in the Virginia House of Burgesses. “This House, being deeply impressed with apprehension of the great dangers, to be derived to British America,…deem it highly necessary that the said first day of June be set apart, by the members of this House as 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. Ordered, therefore that the Members of this House do attend… to the Church in this City, for the purposes aforesaid; and that the Reverend Mr. Price be appointed to read prayers, and the Reverend Mr. Gwatkin, to preach a sermon.” George Washington wrote in his journal on the designated day, “Went to church, fasted all day.”
On July 12, 1775, the nation observed a congressionally declared Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer: “Congress…considering the present critical, alarming, and calamitous state…do earnestly recommend, that Thursday, the 12th of July next, be observed by the inhabitants of all the English Colonies on this Continent, as a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer,…that we may with united hearts and voices, unfeignedly confess and deplore our many sins and offer up our joint supplications to the All-wise, Omnipotent and merciful Disposer of all Events, humbly beseeching Him to forgive our iniquities…It is recommended to Christians of all denominations to assemble for public worship and to abstain from servile labor and recreations of said day.”
John Adams in a letter to his wife Abigail wrote about this day: “Millions will be upon their knees at once before their great Creator, imploring His forgiveness and blessing, His smiles on American Council and arms.”
Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull reported about this proclamation to General George Washington in a letter dated, July 13, 1775. Trumbull included a prayer for General Washington: “Now, therefore, be strong and very courageous. May the God of the armies of Israel shower down the blessings of his Divine Providence on you, give you wisdom and fortitude, cover your head in the day of battle and danger, add success, convince our enemies of their mistaken measures.”
This, friends, is our heritage. It is not fiction; it is not a lie; it is not fake news. It’s real. We have had such leaders—men who understood the principles of II Chronicles 7:14 and who were humble enough to know they needed to pray and to lead the nation in prayer, fasting and repentance. President Trump was in good company with his March 15 Day of Prayer declaration. We need more of that leadership right now, but we also must remember that the oft-quoted verse begins with “If my people….,” a clear reminder that Christians should be exercising these principles whether or not we have days of prayer and fasting officially declared. The healing of our land depends on it.
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”