An Historical Precedent for our Senate & President
and a Model for the Churches of America
and a Model for the Churches of America
During perhaps the darkest hour of this nation's history, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution asking President Abraham Lincoln to appoint a day of national prayer and fasting. The nation was in the throes of a great Civil War and the South seemed to have the upper hand. The nation's very existence was in jeopardy. Lincoln issued the following proclamation on March 30, 1863 designating April 30, 1863 as a national day of humiliation, prayer and fasting. Almost immediately after this day of repentance, prayer and fasting, the tide of the war turned and the Confederate troops led by their commander, General Robert E. Lee, were defeated by Union forces at Gettysburg the following July 3. Here is what President Lincoln said:
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 Lord:
And, insomuch as we know that, 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 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 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 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 hard 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 and peace.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. By the President: Abraham Lincoln.
Dr. Eddie Hyatt is an ordained minister, Bible teacher, church historian and author. His latest book is PURSUING POWER: How the Historic Quest for Apostolic Power & Control Has Divided and Damaged the Church, available from Amazon and from his website at www.eddiehyatt.com/bookstore.html.