President Lincoln’s Appointment of the United States of America’s First National Day of Humiliation, Fasting, and Prayer’’
I was struck by a stroke last fall. I was led by God’s Spirit to an actual event in United States history that had its basis on a biblical text I have referenced a number of times in book. That text is 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, “When I [God speaking to Solomon, third king of Ancient Israel] shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land,”
President Lincoln’s Proclamation:
“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 nations, has by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day of 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 Lord.
“And, insomuch as we know, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisement 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 have we forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, 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 view of the Senate, I do, by this 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 that all people do 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 rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teaching, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessing 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 peace.
“In witness whereof, I have set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.” By the President: Abraham Lincoln.”
Some Observations of Those Times:
Obviously a significant number of members of that Senate had a very strong faith and trust in God and recognized the need to appoint a nationwide day of national prayer and fasting. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the congressional leaders of in those years.
President Lincoln wasn’t concerned about being politically correct or unapologetic when he penned this powerful sentence, “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!” Satan can easily deluge we human beings with flattery and convince us that we don’t need to seek God’s help any longer because we are capable of achieving all these things by ourselves. When we egotistically accept that position we are disobeying the first of God’s Ten Commandments because in this way we are now obeying and worshiping eirher the government or ourselves as our idol god.
In the next sentence President Lincoln said, “It behooves us then to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.” Most of us probably recognize slavery as the national sin against and about which they were fighting the Civil War. It is worth noting that God responded positively to the national day of humiliation, prayer and fasting. The Civil War was concluded about two months after the national day of prayer and fasting. Further and most importantly, The United States of America remained intact and was not divided.
What Is Needed For American To Return To God and Avoid Self-destruction?
First, a significant number of us must pray that the Holy Spirit would work in the hearts and minds of the current members of the Senate and Congress to call on the President to proclaim a national day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. That on that national day of prayer and fasting, we a nation humble ourselves before our offended Almighty God, to repent of our national sins and pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Second, it is time for every Christian and non-Christian to become thoroughly reacquainted or acquainted with the Bible by not just reading it, but studying it daily and writing in a journal the answer to this question, “What are the implications of this text for me in living my life in the days ahead?”
Third, we must pray that the federal government immediately begins the process of rescinding those national sins that offended God and were instituted by the Supreme Court. They are: (1) the decision to expunge God and the Bible including the Ten Commandments from our public schools and (over time) from society; (2) the decision to approve the murder of more than 60 million unborn babies (an act that is extremely abominable to God); (3) the decision approving same-sex marriage nation-wide; and (4) the decision granting First Amendment, freedom of speech status to pornography.
Fourth, immediately Congress must commence the process of (1) establishing a balanced budget constitutional amendment and (2) withdrawing the legislative and judicial powers granted to various departments of the Executive Branch.
Fifth, restore the sanctity of the nuclear family (headed by the father and mother).
Sixth, encourage the local business community to restore the sanctity of the Sabbath, local businesses so owners and employees along with their customers can participate in the “sabbath rest” as originally intended by God.
When America has adequately humbled itself, confessed and repented of its wicked ways and God has assured Himself that America is seriously intent on returning to Him. I believe that He will restore His mighty hedge of protection allowing America to continue, in peace, the arduous process of returning to Him.