This excerpt is taken from Paul Davis’ book “Holy Ghost Fire or Hellfire? The inescapable choice.”
The good prayer and fasting has done cannot be underestimated. It has often both thwarted evil and moved God in heaven. It is terribly unfortunate that very few know the truth about American history and the great influence that praying men who lived fasted lives had upon this nation.
The Continental Congress made their first official act a call to prayer on September 6, 1774, after just receiving news that the British troops had attacked Boston. The first prayer in Congress was uttered on September 7, 1774, in Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia.
The Library of Congress, from the collected reports of the various patriots, recorded on a famous historical placard the effect of that first prayer upon Congress:
“Washington was kneeling there, and Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and Jay, and by their side there stood, bowed in reverence, the Puritan Patriots of New England, who at that moment had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble households. It was believed that Boston had been bombarded and destroyed.
They prayed fervently ‘for America, for Congress, for the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the town of Boston,’ and who can realize the emotion with which they turned imploringly to Heaven for Divine interposition and – ‘It was enough’ says Mr. Adams, ‘to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears gush into the eyes of the old, grave, Pacific Quakers of Philadelphia.’”
Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves individually and as a nation before God. The Israelites were taught by Moses to “afflict their souls” by means of fasting (Lev. 16:31). Devout Jews interpret this as a command by God to fast and strictly adhere to do so (Acts 27:9).
The founding fathers of the United States of America, the pilgrims, attributed their success to God through fasting and prayer. Setting aside special days of fasting and prayer was an accepted part of life in the Plymouth Colony. A law was passed on November 15, 1636, allowing the Governor and his assistants “to command solemn days of humiliation by fasting, etc. And, also, for thanksgiving as occasion shall be offered.”
The assembly of Virginia passed a resolution on June 1, 1774 as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. George Washington, our first president, set a pattern for leaders of this country to fast and pray. Washington’s diary records, “Went to church and fasted all day.”
Our country has precedence to fast and pray to avoid war. John Adams, our second president, proclaimed May 9, 1798 as a day of solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer. The United States was on the verge of war with France.
Under our fourth president, James Madison, when engaged in war with Britain, both houses of Congress passed a joint resolution desiring a day of public humiliation, fasting and prayer on January 12, 1815.
Abraham Lincoln, the Savior of the Union, the country’s greatest president, proclaimed three fasts. During the Civil War, Lincoln called the nation to prayer and fasting for national peace and unity. Lincoln’s second call on March 30th, 1863, was to repent as a nation through prayer and fasting. Honest Abe’s third proclamation was the first Thursday of August, 1864. He made a special plea for those in positions of authority to seek God with fasting and prayer.
The might that prayer and fasting exerts cannot be underestimated, as petitioners humble themselves before the throne of grace and unlock the arm of the Almighty to intervene in the earthly affairs of men. Indeed, we “have not” because we “ask not” (Jas. 4:2). Could it be that we are so engulfed in responding to the demands of our flesh that we cannot hear from our spirit? If we were not so quick to indulge our flesh in all that it is asking for, we might have time and attentiveness to do some asking for the spiritual blessings that ultimately affect the natural world in which we live.
We thank You for the blessings You have bestowed upon our nation. Amen.