America’s Forefathers on the National Day of Prayer

“The Prayer at Valley Forge” by Arnold Friberg

As we begin preparations for tomorrow’s National Day of Prayer, it is important to remember the role prayer has played in American History. As we consider the Patriot Quotes below, be sure to find a National Day of Prayer event near you and participate. Also, be sure to visit this site on Thursday May 3 at 9:00am and read an original prayer for the nation.

Although the National Day of Prayer did not become an annual event until 1952 when President Truman signed a joint resolution of Congress, the idea of a National Day of Prayer and Fasting has actually existed longer than the nation itself. In 1775 the Continental Congress petitioned the people to pray as we formed our new country. Since then, many presidents have called the people of America to pray for the nation. Here are a few Patriot Quotes to inspire you during Tomorrow’s National Day of Prayer:

The Prayer at Valley Forge

Washington’s Prayer at Valley Forge, 
engraving by John C. McRae

There’s a great deal we can learn from George Washington’s personal prayer life, but he also made several declarations of national prayer and thanksgiving including this proclamation on January 1, 1795:

“It is in an especial manner our duty as a people, with devout reverence and affectionate gratitude, to acknowledge our many and great obligations to Almighty God, and to implore Him to continue and confirm the blessings we experienced.”

John Adams also called for a national day of prayer and fasting March 6, 1799:

“I have thought proper to recommend, and I hereby recommend accordingly, that Thursday, the twenty-fifth day of April next, be observed throughout the United States of America as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer; that the citizens on that day abstain, as far as may be, from their secular occupation, and devote the time to the sacred duties of religion, in public and in private; that they 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 in time to come; that He would interpose to arrest the progress of that impiety and licentiousness in principle and practice so offensive to Himself and so ruinous to mankind; that He would make us deeply sensible that ‘righteousness exalteth a nation but sin is a reproach to any people’ (Proverbs 14:34)”

After the Union Army was defeated at the Battle of Bull Run, President Lincoln declared a National Day of Prayer and Fasting September 26, 1861, saying:

“It is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, 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; and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offenses, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action…”

Two months after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, Abraham Lincoln called for another day of national prayer. His proclamation began:

“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 resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation…”

There are many more examples of our forefathers petitioning the nation for prayer. What’s important to remember from these brief examples is the importance prayer has played in the blessing of our nation. As we prepare to call out to God in one Christian voice tomorrow, pray for the healing of our nation and the wisdom of our leaders.

What activities do you have planned for the National Day of Prayer? How will you be praying for our nation?

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Please see the Condition of Use for this blog.
© Joshua J. Masters and American Psalms, 2012.
Quotes Source: America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer, 
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Public Domain Collection

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