The Finish Line
On September 9, 2015, the National Day of Prayer Task Force and its many ministry partners began a 56-day trek around the country, traveling 5,915 miles through 26 states to mobilize prayer on more than 50 college campuses. The tour concluded today, November 4, 2015, in Washington D.C. at the Department of Education.
The History of Prayer in America
Days of Prayer have a long history in America. Colonists declared Days of Prayer during droughts, Indian attacks and threats from other nations. Edward Winslow’s record of the Pilgrims’ experiences, reprinted in Alexander Young’s Chronicles of the Pilgrims (Boston, 1841), stated: “Drought and the like considerations moved not only every good man privately to enter into examination with his own estate between God and his conscience, and so to humiliation before Him, but also to humble ourselves together before the Lord by Fasting and Prayer.”
In colonial Connecticut, settlers proclaimed by legal authority a day in early spring for Fasting and Prayer. The governor customarily selected Good Friday as the annual spring fast. In 1668, the Virginia House of Burgesses in Jamestown passed an ordinance stating: “The 27th of August appointed for a Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, to implore God’s mercy”
A notable Day of Prayer was in 1746, when French Admiral d’Anville sailed for New England, commanding the most powerful fleet of the time - 70 ships with 13,000 troops. He intended to recapture Louisburg, Nova Scotia, and destroy from Boston to New York, all the way to Georgia. Massachusetts Governor William Shirley declared a Day of Prayer and Fasting, October 16, 1746, to pray for deliverance.
In Boston’s Old South Meeting House, Rev. Thomas Prince prayed “Send Thy tempest, Lord, upon the water...scatter the ships of our tormentors!” Historian Catherine Drinker Bowen related that as he finished praying, the sky darkened, winds shrieked and church bells rang “a wild, uneven sound...though no man was in the steeple.”
A hurricane subsequently sank and scattered the entire French fleet. With 4,000 sick and 2,000 dead, including Admiral d’Anville, French Vice-Admiral d’Estournelle threw himself on his sword. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in his Ballad of the French Fleet:
“Admiral d’Anville had sworn by cross and crown, to ravage with fire and steel our helpless Boston Town...From mouth to mouth spread tidings of dismay, I stood in the Old South saying humbly: ‘Let us pray!’...Like a potter’s vessel broke, the great ships of the line, were carried away as smoke or sank in the brine.”
As raids from France and Spain increased, Ben Franklin proposed a General Fast, which was approved by Pennsylvania’s President and Council, and published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, December 12, 1747:
“We have...thought fit...to appoint...a Day of Fasting & Prayer, exhorting all, both Ministers & People...to join with one accord in the most humble & fervent supplications that Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the rage of war among the nations & put a stop to the effusion of Christian blood.”
On May 24, 1774, Thomas Jefferson drafted a Resolution for a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer to be observed as the British blockaded Boston’s Harbor. Robert Carter Nicholas, Treasurer, introduced the Resolution in the Virginia House of Burgesses, and, with support of Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason, it passed unanimously: “This House, being deeply impressed with apprehension of the great dangers, to be derived to British America, from the hostile invasion of the City of Boston, in our sister Colony of Massachusetts... 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...with the Speaker, and the Mace, 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 diary, June 1, 1774: “Went to church, fasted all day.”
Virginia’s Royal Governor, Lord Dunmore, interpreted this Resolution as a veiled protest against King George III, and dissolved the House of Burgesses, resulting in legislators meeting in Raleigh Tavern where they conspired to form the first Continental Congress.
On April 15, 1775, just four days before the Battle of Lexington, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, led by John Hancock, declared: “In circumstances dark as these, it becomes us, as men and Christians, to reflect that, whilst every prudent measure should be taken to ward off the impending judgments...the 11th of May next be set apart as a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer...to confess the sins...to implore the Forgiveness of all our Transgression.”
On April 19, 1775, in a Proclamation of a Day of Fasting and Prayer, Connecticut Governor Jonathan Trumbull beseeched that: “God would graciously pour out His Holy Spirit on us to bring us to a thorough repentance and effectual reformation that our iniquities may not be our ruin; that He would restore, preserve and secure the liberties of this and all the other British American colonies, and make the land a mountain of Holiness, and habitation of righteousness forever.”
On June 12, 1775, less than two months after the Battles of Lexington and Concord, where was fired “the shot heard ‘round the world,” the Continental Congress, under President John Hancock, declared: “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.”
On July 5, 1775, the Georgia Provincial Congress passed: “A motion...that this Congress apply to his Excellency the Governor...requesting him to appoint a Day of Fasting and Prayer throughout this Province, on account of the disputes subsisting between America and the Parent State.”
On July 7, 1775, Georgia’s Provincial Governor replied: “Gentlemen: I have taken the...request made by...a Provincial Congress, and must premise, that I cannot consider that meeting as constitutional; but as the request is expressed in such loyal and dutiful terms, and the ends proposed being such as every good man must most ardently wish for, I will certainly appoint a Day of Fasting and Prayer to be observed throughout this Province. Jas. Wright.”
On July 12, 1775, in a letter to his wife explaining the Continental Congress’ decision to declare a Day of Public Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer, John Adams wrote: “We have appointed a Continental fast. Millions will be upon their knees at once before their great Creator, imploring His forgiveness and blessing; His smiles on American Council and arms.”
On July 19, 1775, the Continental Congress’ Journals recorded: “Agreed, The Congress meet here to morrow morning, at half after 9 o’clock, in order to attend divine service at Mr. Duche’s’ Church; and that in the afternoon they meet here to go from this place and attend divine service at Doctor Allison’s church.” In his Cambridge headquarters, Washington ordered, March 6, 1776: “Thursday, the 7th...being set apart...as a Day of Fasting, Prayer and Humiliation, ‘to implore the Lord and Giver of all victory to pardon our manifold sins and wickedness, and that it would please Him to bless the Continental army with His divine favor and protection,’ all officers and soldiers are strictly enjoined to pay all due reverence and attention on that day to the sacred duties to the Lord of hosts for His mercies already received, and for those blessings which our holiness and uprightness of life can alone encourage us to hope through His mercy obtain.”
On March 16, 1776, the Continental Congress passed without dissent a resolution presented by General William Livingston declaring: “Congress....desirous...to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God’s superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely...on his aid and direction...do earnestly recommend Friday, the 17th day of May be observed by the colonies as a Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease God’s righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain this pardon and forgiveness.”
On May 15, 1776, General George Washington ordered: “The Continental Congress having ordered Friday the 17th instant to be observed as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, humbly to supplicate the mercy of Almighty God, that it would please Him to pardon all our manifold sins and transgressions, and to prosper the arms of the United Colonies, and finally establish the peace and freedom of America upon a solid and lasting foundation; the General commands all officers and soldiers to pay strict obedience to the orders of the Continental Congress; that, by their unfeigned and pious observance of their religious duties, they may incline the Lord and Giver of victory to prosper our arms.”
On April 12, 1778, at Valley Forge, General Washington ordered: “The Honorable Congress having thought proper to recommend to the United States of America to set apart Wednesday, the 22nd inst., to be observed as a day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer, that at one time, and with one voice, the righteous dispensations of Providence may be acknowledged, and His goodness and mercy towards our arms supplicated and implored: The General directs that the day shall be most religiously observed in the Army; that no work shall be done thereon, and that the several chaplains do prepare discourses.”
On November 11, 1779, Virginia Governor Thomas Jefferson signed a Proclamation of Prayer, which stated: “Congress...hath thought proper...to recommend to the several States...a day of publick and solemn Thanksgiving to Almighty God, for his mercies, and of Prayer, for the continuance of his favour...That He would go forth with our hosts and crown our arms with victory; that He would grant to His church, the plentiful effusions of Divine Grace, and pour out His Holy Spirit on all Ministers of the Gospel; that He would bless and prosper the means of education, and spread the light of Christian knowledge through the remotest corners of the earth...”
On April 6, 1780, at Morristown, General Washington ordered: “Congress having been pleased by their Proclamation of the 11th of last month to appoint Wednesday the 22nd instant to be set apart and observed as a day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer...there should be no labor or recreations on that day.”
On October 11, 1782, the Congress of the Confederation passed: “It being the indispensable duty of all nations...to offer up their supplications to Almighty God...the United States in Congress assembled...do hereby recommend it to the inhabitants of these states in general, to observe...the last Thursday, in the 28th day of November next, as a Day of Solemn Thanksgiving to God for all his mercies.”
On November 8, 1783, at the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, Massachusetts Governor John Hancock issued: “The Citizens of these United States have every Reason for Praise and Gratitude to the God of their salvation...I do...appoint...the 11th day of December next (the day recommended by the Congress to all the States) to be religiously observed as a Day of Thanksgiving and Prayer, that all the people may then assemble to celebrate...that he hath been pleased to continue to us the Light of the Blessed Gospel...That we also offer up fervent supplications...to cause pure Religion and Virtue to flourish...and to fill the world with his glory.
On February 21, 1786, New Hampshire Governor John Langdon proclaimed: a Day of Public Fasting and Prayer: “It having been the laudable practice of this State, at the opening of the Spring, to set apart a day...to...penitently confess their manifold sins and transgressions, and fervently implore the divine benediction, that a true spirit of repentance and humiliation may be poured out upon all...that he would be pleased to bless the great Council of the United States of America and direct their deliberations...that he would rain down righteousness upon the earth, revive religion, and spread abroad the knowledge of the true God, the Saviour of man, throughout the world. And all servile labor and recreations are forbidden on said day.”
At the Constitutional Convention, 1787, Ben Franklin stated: “In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection.”
Proclaiming a Day of Prayer, Ronald Reagan said January 27, 1983: “In 1775, the Continental Congress proclaimed the first National Day of Prayer...In 1783, the Treaty of Paris officially ended the long, weary Revolutionary War during which a National Day of Prayer had been proclaimed every spring for eight years.”
On October 31, 1785, James Madison introduced a bill in the Virginia Legislature titled, “For Appointing Days of Public Fasting and Thanksgiving,” which included: “Forfeiting fifty pounds for every failure, not having a reasonable excuse.” Yale College had as its requirement, 1787: “All the scholars are obliged to attend Divine worship in the College Chapel on the Lord’s Day and on Days of Fasting and Thanksgiving appointed by public authority.”
The same week Congress passed the Bill of Rights, President George Washington declared, October 3, 1789: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the Providence of Almighty God, to obey His will...and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me ‘to recommend to the People of the United States a Day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness’...
“I do recommend...the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the People of these United States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks...for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed... Humbly offering our prayers...to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions.”
After the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania, President Washington proclaimed a Day of Prayer, January 1, 1796: “All persons within the United States, to...render sincere and hearty thanks to the great Ruler of nations...particularly for the possession of constitutions of government...and fervently beseech the kind Author of these blessings...to establish habits of sobriety, order, and morality and piety.”
During a threatened war with France, President John Adams declared a Day of Fasting, March 23, 1798, then again on March 6, 1799: “As...the people of the United States are still held in jeopardy by...insidious acts of a foreign nation, as well as by the dissemination among them of those principles subversive to the foundations of all religious, moral, and social obligations...I hereby recommend...a Day of Solemn Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer; That the citizens...call to mind our numerous offenses against the Most High God, confess them before Him with the sincerest penitence, implore His pardoning mercy, through the Great Mediator and Redeemer, for our past transgressions, and that through the grace of His Holy Spirit, we may be disposed and enabled to yield a more suitable obedience to His righteous requisitions... ‘Righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people.’”
James Madison, known as the “Chief Architect of the Constitution,” wrote many of the Federalist Papers, convincing the States to ratify the Constitution, and introduced the First Amendment in the first session of Congress. During the War of 1812, President James Madison proclaimed a Day of Prayer, July 9, 1812, stating:
“I do therefore recommend...rendering the Sovereign of the Universe...public homage...acknowledging the transgressions which might justly provoke His divine displeasure...seeking His merciful forgiveness...and with a reverence for the unerring precept of our holy religion, to do to others as they would require that others should do to them.”
On July 23, 1813, Madison issued another Day of Prayer, referring to: “religion, that gift of Heaven for the good of man.” When the British marched on Washington, D.C., citizens evacuated, along with President and Dolly Madison. The British burned the White House, Capitol and public buildings on August 25, 1814. Suddenly dark clouds rolled in and a tornado touched down sending debris flying, blowing off roofs and knocking down chimneys on British troops. Two cannons were lifted off the ground and dropped yards away. A British historian wrote: “More British soldiers were killed by this stroke of nature than from all the firearms the American troops had mustered.” British forces then fled and rains extinguished the fires.
James Madison responded by proclaiming, November 16, 1814: “In the present time of public calamity and war a day may be...observed by the people of the United States as a Day of Public Humiliation and Fasting and of Prayer to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States...of confessing their sins and transgressions, and of strengthening their vows of repentance...that He would be graciously pleased to pardon all their offenses.”
In 1832, as an Asiatic Cholera outbreak gripped New York, Henry Clay asked for a Joint Resolution of Congress to request the President set: “A Day of Public Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnity.”
On April 13, 1841, when 9th President William Harrison died, President John Tyler issued a Day of Prayer and Fasting: “When a Christian people feel themselves to be overtaken by a great public calamity, it becomes them to humble themselves under the dispensation of Divine Providence.”
On July 3, 1849, during a cholera epidemic, President Zachary Taylor proclaimed: “The providence of God has manifested itself in the visitation of a fearful pestilence which is spreading itself throughout the land, it is fitting that a people whose reliance has ever been in His protection should humble themselves before His throne...acknowledging past transgressions, ask a continuance of the Divine mercy. It is earnestly recommended that the first Friday in August be observed throughout the United States as a Day of Fasting, Humiliation and Prayer.”
On December 14, 1860, President James Buchanan issued a Proclamation of a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer: “In this the hour of our calamity and peril to whom shall we resort for relief but to the God of our fathers? His omnipotent arm only can save us from the awful effects of our own crimes and follies...Let us...unite in humbling ourselves before the Most High, in confessing our individual and national sins...Let me invoke every individual, in whatever sphere of life he may be placed, to feel a personal responsibility to God and his country for keeping this day holy.”
On August 12, 1861, after the Union lost the Battle of Bull Run, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed: “It is fit...to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to His chastisement; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom...Therefore I, Abraham Lincoln...do appoint the last Thursday in September next as a Day of Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting for all the people of the nation.”
On March 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer: “The awful calamity of civil war...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 forgotten God...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 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.”
After Lincoln was shot, President Johnson issued, April 29, 1865: “The 25th day of next month was recommended as a Day for Special Humiliation and Prayer in consequence of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln...but Whereas my attention has since been called to the fact that the day aforesaid is sacred to large numbers of Christians as one of rejoicing for the ascension of the Savior: Now...I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, do suggest that the religious services recommended as aforesaid should be postponed until...the 1st day of June.”
During World War I, President Wilson proclaimed May 11, 1918: “‘It being the duty peculiarly incumbent in a time of war humbly and devoutly to acknowledge our dependence on Almighty God and to implore His aid and protection...I, Woodrow Wilson...proclaim...a Day of Public Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting, and do exhort my fellow-citizens...to pray Almighty God that He may forgive our sins.”
During World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt prayed during the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944: “Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our Religion and our Civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity...Help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.”
When WWII ended, President Truman declared in a Day of Prayer, August 16, 1945: “The warlords of Japan...have surrendered unconditionally... This is the end of the...schemes of dictators to enslave the peoples of the world...Our global victory...has come with the help of God...Let us...dedicate ourselves to follow in His ways.”
In 1952, President Truman made the National Day of Prayer an annual observance, stating: “In times of national crisis when we are striving to strengthen the foundations of peace...we stand in special need of Divine support.”
In April of 1970, President Richard Nixon had the nation observe a Day of Prayer for Apollo 13 astronauts. On May 5, 1988, President Reagan made the National Day of Prayer the first Thursday in May, saying: “Americans in every generation have turned to their Maker in prayer...We have acknowledged...our dependence on Almighty God.”
President George W. Bush declared Days of Prayer after the Islamic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and after Hurricane Katrina.
As America faces challenges in the economy, from terrorism and natural disasters, one can gain inspiring faith from leaders of the past.
- William J. Federer
Click here to download the free e-book Prayers and Presidents – Inspiring Faith from Leaders of the Past by William J. Federer now >>
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,…If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” (Isaiah 1: 4,10,12,15-17a, 19)
The Bible tells us that calling evil good and good evil will bring disaster on those who do it (Isa. 5:20, Rom. 1:18-32) and we see that reversal in abundance today. But God’s people have been in this place before and we must humble ourselves and pray and intercede for this generation as they know not what they do.
Come now – let us gather before the Lord and pray and seek His face and repent (II Chronicles 7:14).
Here are some ways to pray right now:
1.Thank the Lord for the gift of family. Express your gratitude that family is God’s by design and not human invention.
2. Ask for forgiveness on behalf of the Church for failing to model godly families before our society. We bear much blame for the deterioration of marriage and the family. (1 Timothy 5:8)
3. Pray for help to live out God’s intent for the family. May our homes become outposts for God’s kingdom. (Acts 10:2)
4. Confess our sins of responding to those caught up in a homosexual lifestyle with anger or hatred. Ask for help to love as Christ loves. (John 8:11)
5. Pray that the Lord would show us in practical ways how to speak the truth in love according to His Word. (Ephesians 4:15)
6. Ask God to pour out His wisdom on His people that we might see clearly the attack of the enemy on His design for marriage. May God’s wisdom give us insight into the results of tearing down traditional one man-one woman marriage. (James 1:5)
A Sample Prayer:
Father, we are grateful to be able to call You that. To know that through Jesus, we have been brought into Your family. Thank You that our earthly families, as imperfect as they are, are a reflection of the eternal family for which You are our forever Father. Forgive us Lord, for not being better pictures of what the family is intended to be. Help us Lord to live out our lives in families with godliness, love, purity, and truth.
This broken world has affected all of us in so many damaging ways. We thank You for accepting us in our brokenness through Jesus, and for Your commitment to bringing us to spiritual and emotional health and wholeness. Forgive us as your people when we have gone on the offensive against those caught up in any sexual sin. Teach us how to live as You lived as You walked among us, Lord Jesus. We want to love as You loved and speak truth as You spoke truth.
From a place of humility before You, we plead with You Lord, to intervene to preserve our nation. Give us wisdom which only You can give. Pour out righteousness upon our land. We ask this, for your honor and glory, in the majestic name of Jesus. Amen!
A Prayer for America by Alex Kendrick
Our Father in heaven, we come before You today, acknowledging You as our Creator. You are the God of Abraham, Jacob, and Isaac, the One who established Your chosen people and through whom You gave Your Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. You established the promised land of Israel and demonstrated time and time again that if Your people sought You, worshiped You, and obeyed You, that You would bless them with guidance, provision, and protection. But that if they turned away, then You would remove Your hand and allow judgment.
Lord, we also acknowledge that just as Israel was dedicated to You at it’s founding, that another country years later would also seek Your blessing and dedicate themselves and their land to You. The first president of these United States of America, on the day of his inauguration sought Your hand, Your guidance, and Your blessing on our new country, and the people prayed and celebrated in agreement.
In the following years, Lord, You did more for us than we deserved. You blessed us with military strength, economic strength, with inventions, medical discoveries, academic achievement and national prosperity. You lifted us up to lead the world as we proclaimed that our blessings came from You and that “In God We Trust”. Our constitution acknowledges You as our Creator and our founding fathers noted that our people should never be led without Your Word.
But as You blessed us, we eventually became prideful in our success, believing that it was also by our own hands that our nation was elevated, and that You owed us blessings and protection. In time a generation rose that became calloused toward You, Oh God, and we chose our own prideful logic above Your truth, abandoning You in our schools and ignoring You in our courts. Yet, You showed patience and mercy, and called out “Return to Me, America. Return to Me.”
But instead we embraced our sin, claiming we were Lord over ourselves. We abandoned You by giving credit to the creation of our world to astronomical chance, and began throwing out Your moral boundaries for our selfish pleasure. We oversaturated our hearts and minds on immoral entertainment until our conscience was seared, and began shedding the innocent blood of our unborn children who were an inconvenience to our lives. Yet You kept calling, “Repent, America. Repent and return to Me!”
But we responded that, “We’ve done no wrong.” And we justified our sin as our right and liberty. We chased money, physical pleasure, and the belief that we are entitled to what we do not deserve. And now we stand on the precipice of redefining what You have already called “sacred” for a definition of our own.
Lord, what You call wicked, we now call good. And we’ve now begun persecuting those that proclaim Your truth. You’ve sent warnings, allowing breaches in our security, and instability in our economy. You’ve allowed drought to begin touching our land, and civil unrest in our cities.
Lord, even the people who claim to still acknowledge You have become apathetic and complacent in our comfort. Our worship has been lukewarm and our prayers passionless. We shake our heads in shame as our nation weakens around us, instead of repenting of our apathy and inaction. Where are the people of God? Where are those that still cry out to You with broken and contrite hearts?
Lord, we deserve judgment. We deserve Your wrath, for we have sinned and sinned greatly. And we know that Your judgment starts in the house of God. Our righteousness is as filthy rags, and our hypocrisy as a cancer in our land. But we cry out to You, Lord! We have nowhere else to look but You! There is no other answer. Man cannot redeem us. Remember Your mercy! Remember Your compassion! Break our hearts, Oh, God! Help us to love what You love, and to hate what You hate. Give us the courage to call sin what it is, and to define our lives by Your truth. Remind us of Your love for us, and call us to repentance. May every heart that knows You as Lord seek You this day! May we grieve over our sin this day; that You might show us mercy and forgiveness.
Lord, for those that heed Your words, and repent with open hearts, restore us to You. And unify those that love You. Raise up a generation that seeks You and worships You with their whole heart. Raise up a generation that is not ashamed of the gospel, and that hates to be lukewarm. Grant them faith, love, and courage to live according to Your Word, and to pray with power and to act with conviction. Raise up leaders, Lord, who will not compromise when under pressure, or abandon You for the approval of men. Raise them up, Lord, that they may call upon Your name, and confess Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Break up the hard soil in our hearts, Lord, that You may take joy in our worship of You, and bless us again. Call us to holiness, that we would once again be the light of the world and draw all men to You. Awaken us, Lord! Rekindle our fire, and stir our hearts. We confess our sins, and we seek Your face. Forgive us, Lord God, that we can again proclaim, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”.
We ask for Your forgiveness and cleansing. We pray against those who reject Your truth. Turn their hearts to You or confound their logic. But don’t let wickedness take our land. Don’t let them succeed. Stand in their way, Lord. For America is Yours! And like Israel, may she remain undivided and in Your care. Keep our bond strong with Israel, Lord, and our leaders loyal. Or remove them from office. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, Amen.
- Alex Kendrick
Alex Kendrick is an American film writer, producer, director, actor and author. He is best known for his films Facing the Giants, Fireproof, Courageous and the upcoming War Room (releasing August 28). He is also known for the book The Love Dare, which became a No. 1 New York Times bestseller and spent 131 weeks on the Times' Paperback Advice best-seller list. With over 5 million copies in print, it has been translated into more than 30 languages.
America Mobilized to Prayer
All 50 Governors and the President of the United States proclaimed the 64th annual National Day of Prayer as millions of Americans gathered from coast to coast in solemn assembly. It was the single, largest mobilized call to prayer in the history of our nation with more than 43,000 events taking place at courthouse steps, parks, offices, government buildings, churches and homes symbolizing a single prayer – one voice – one cry – for such a time as this. It was, perhaps, the fulfillment of the vision of President John Adams, who wrote on June 17, 1775, "We have appointed a Continental fast. Millions will be upon their knees at once before their great Creator, imploring his forgiveness and blessing; his smiles on American councils and arms."
Stadiums were filled from Pennsylvania to Minnesota with shouts of prayer and adoration. Parades, motorcycle rallies, hot air balloon launches and more were planned in celebration. In Washington D.C., standing room only events with extended lines throughout the duration of the programs gave transparency to the move of the Holy Spirit to unite the church for what appears to be the sparking embers of a global revival. At the precipice of this National Day of Prayer, many within the church had been praying for just such an awakening and the results may have historic impact of immeasurable proportions. Revive us again was the popular theme of the season as millions united in prayer. It was Charles Spurgeon, who in 1866 said, “the word "revive" wears its meaning upon its forehead; it is from the Latin, and may be interpreted thus—to live again, to receive again a life which has almost expired; to rekindle into a flame the vital spark which was nearly extinguished. A true revival is to be looked for in the church of God. Only in the river of gracious life can the pearl of revival be found.”
Revival is not new – God has always intervened trying to get us out of our stagnation and apathy. The Old Testament is a history of revival. In fact, one scholar indicated 7 major revival periods with over 16 clear cultural moves of God during that time. As seasons of complacency would overwhelm the nations in sorrow with a dramatic fall from the graces of God, there would be a spark within a few, driven by His very hand that would lead to national repentance as evidenced in Ezekiel 33:11 or Joel chapter 1, where he declares that the only hope is for a nation to “declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. Summon the elders and all who live in the land to the house of the Lord your God and cry out to Him.”
Following the church from the 14th century throughout modern times, we can document 54 revivals according to many theological sources. In the United States we have seen 3 great times of revival including the 1857 Fulton Street Revival led by a relatively unknown man by the name of Jeremiah Lanphier. What started out as a gathering of 5 people for the state of our nation turned into a movement of over one million men and women turning back to God in bold exclamation of faith. 50,000 people gave their lives to the Lord and this time is credited for a significant drop in crime and a rebuilding of the broken homes that permeated New York City at a time of high unemployment and national insecurity.
The evidence that God is calling his people to revival are overwhelming and as E.M. Bounds stated in his powerful book, The Weapon of Prayer, “A breed of Christian is greatly needed who will seek tirelessly after God, who will give Him no rest, day and night, until He hearken to their cry. The times demand praying individuals who are all athirst for God’s glory, who are broad and unselfish in their desires, quenchless for God, who seek Him late and early, and who will give themselves no rest until the whole earth be filled with His glory.”
The formula is written for us clearly in II Chronicles 7:14 and God’s people are responding by the masses. He has called his church to:
- Return to Him with humility
- Pray unceasingly
- Seek His face unconditionally
- Turn from our wicked ways
- Live in unity
- And Persevere until His return
Many will look to the headlines to see if there is instant change in America as a result of this massive public outcry and what we must remember is that God will respond in His timing. Our prayers will not go unanswered. Like the disciples who waited 50 days for the promise of Christ to be fulfilled on Pentecost, we must be patient and remain mobilized and confident that the prayers of His people are powerful and effective and generations not yet born will praise the Lord, Psalm 102:18.
“America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side, but I think it’s all right to keep asking if we’re on His side.”
President Ronald Reagan, January 25, 1984
May God bless America once more!
- John Bornschein, Vice Chairman
For Such A Time As This
At the height of the glory of the Persian Empire, among the Jewish families who did not return to Jerusalem after being taken into captivity by the Babylonians was a man named Mordecai and his orphan cousin, Esther. The story of her rise from total obscurity to become the queen of the world’s most powerful monarch of that time, King Xerxes, illustrates how God uses events and people as instruments to fulfill His plans in the world.
Xerxes elevated his most trusted advisor Haman, who ordered everyone to kneel before him whenever in his company. When Mordecai repeatedly refused to kneel, the enraged and egotistical Haman discovered that Mordecai was Jewish. In a villainous moment, perhaps rivaled in history only by the Holocaust, Haman convinced Xerxes to sign a law to have all the Jews exterminated and to seize their property.
Hearing of the new law, Mordecai pleaded with Esther, urging her to go to the king and beg for mercy and plead for her people. “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). After calling upon the Jews in the capital city to fast and pray, Esther risked her own life, exposed Haman’s plot and true character, and saved the entire nation. Even today, Jews celebrate their deliverance through the Feast of Purim.
Similarly, as American troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, President Franklin Roosevelt called for our nation to unite in prayer. He also offered a prayer to prepare each citizen for the road ahead. “Let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be. And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee.” The victory that followed on June 6, 1944, also known as D-day, began the march to Berlin. Eighteen months later, WWII was over, and one of the world’s greatest evils had been defeated. The prayers of a nation had been a powerful force.
Prayer has always been used in this country for guidance, protection, and strength, even before we were a nation or a handful of colonies. The Pilgrims at Plymouth relied on prayer during their first and darkest winter. Our Founding Fathers also called for prayer during the Constitutional Congress. In their eyes, our recently created nation and freedoms were a direct gift from God. And being a gift from God, there was only one way to ensure protection – through prayer.
President Abraham Lincoln knew this well. It was his belief that, “It is the duty of nations as well as men, to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God.” When it came to the fate of the nation, he practiced what he preached. Before the battle of Gettysburg, he turned to God in prayer. “I went to my room one day, and I locked the door and got down on my knees before Almighty God and prayed to Him mightily for victory at Gettysburg.” Won by the Union, Gettysburg was one of the turning points in the war that ended slavery and kept the states united.
Today, the need for prayer is as great as ever. Our nation again faces battlefields, along with an epidemic of broken homes, violence, sexual immorality, and social strife. As the heroes of our nation did in the past, we must again bow our heads in prayer. We must ask the Lord to bless our leaders with wisdom and protection, and that we will have the fortitude to overcome the challenges at hand. If Esther, Mordecai, Roosevelt, the Pilgrims, and Lincoln never underestimated the power of prayer, neither should we.
The 64th annual National Day of Prayer is Thursday, May 7. Join the prayer movement at www.nationaldayofprayer.org
- Lance Wubbels
Australia Calls World to Pray & Fast for 7 Days for USA
"We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to 2 Chronicles 7:14. We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II." -Alison Jessup
(Australia) - The team behind Australia's National Day of Prayer and Fasting (nationaldayofprayer.com.au), along with other prayer leaders are calling the nations of the world to prayer and fasting for seven days for the USA. This period of prayer will take place from April 30 - May 6, 2015. (Photo via Charisma News)
April 30 is America's National Day of Repentance, and May 7 is the 64th Annual National Day of Prayer.
Warwick Marsh, Australian coordinator, said, "April 30 is the 226th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as a devout Christian president and the 152nd anniversary of Lincoln's Day of 'Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting' held during the devastating times of the Civil War. The theme for the USA National Day of Prayer on May 7, 2015 is "Lord Hear Our Cry," and is taken from 1 Kings 8:28: "Give attention to your servant's prayer and his pleas for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day." (To view this prayer for America: click here.)
Alison Jessup from Australia said, "We in Australia believe it is our turn to bless the nation of America and pray for healing for the USA through prayer and fasting according to 2 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."
We in Australia are grateful for the protection that America gave Australia and the nations of the free world during World War II. The 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, led by the USA, was the turning point in the Second World War for Australia."
Matt Prater from Australia said, "We are calling the nations of the world to join in prayer and fasting with our brothers and sisters in Christ in the USA. Last year we had people from over 40 nations join with us. This year we are believing for over 100 nations to join us in prayer and fasting for the USA."
And Lana Vawser from Australia said, "There is a fight for the destiny of the USA right now. The destiny of America hangs in the balance. The Lord is calling His people to arise and pray for the United States of America. It is time to contend." (To view this full article posted on the Elijah List by Lana Vawser, "United States of America, It Is Time to Fight!" click here.)
Submitted by the National Day of Prayer, Australia
Prayer Begins With...The Kingdom of God
“Prayer is everything,” Oswald Chambers wrote. The ministry of intercession involves all types of prayer, and this type of prayer is always at the center of whatever is happening in this world for God. The emphasis of the prayer ministry in intercession is the needs of others and the advancement of God’s interests in the world. It is not simply focused on praying for things for oneself, but for others.
In his book With Christ in the School of Prayer, Andrew Murray wrote: “Christ has opened the school of prayer specifically to train intercessors for the great work of bringing down, by their faith and prayer, the blessings of His work and love on the world around.” He added, “Though in its beginnings, prayer is so simple that the feeblest child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise.” Oswald Chambers reflected the same thought when he said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Through prayer God invites you to make a profound difference in the world but you’ve got to pray.
- Lance Wubbels
This article is part eight in our 8-part series on Prayer.
(Taken from “A Time for Prayer” published by Inspired Faith for the National Day of Prayer – used with permission)
The upcoming National Day of Prayer is only the beginning!
You are invited to join with intercessors from around the world in Colorado Springs, Colorado, for the Leadership Summit, October 16-18, 2015. Discounted registration is available (for a limited time) and includes 5 meals and transportation! Learn to mobilize people to intercession as you gain a deeper understanding of prayer with like-minded believers. Register now at prayerleaders.org
The Leadership Summit speakers will challenge you through powerful ideas, stirring discussions and biblical models. They will take us through life-changing principles that will serve as a roadmap for effectual prayer.
Together, we will also experience a Concert of Prayer at the Jericho Center, focusing on personal repentance, intercession and praise, that will help us draw closer to Almighty God as He prepares us for the work ahead. There should also be plenty of time for fellowship and networking, which are invaluable. It is our hope that you will depart having learned important truths, formed valuable insights and charged-up to commit yourself to action – inspired with vision that ignites audacious faith.
Get registered today and we will see you in Colorado Springs, October 16-18, 2015!
Prayer Begins With...Worship
Many effective prayer warriors recognize the importance of spending much time in worship. This deepens our fellowship with God, increases our faith, and pleases the Holy Spirit. We are then more likely to really hear His voice and thus pray more effectively.
- Lance Wubbels
This article is part seven in our 8-part series on Prayer.