America is a Nation that Called for Fasting and Prayer

Fasting and prayer is a practice that has fallen by the wayside from much of the American experience, even the American Christian experience. May this article inspire us to humble ourselves under God’s mighty and gracious hand.

“The calamities of a bloody war seem every year more nearly to approach us and there is just reason to fear that unless we humble ourselves before the Lord and amend our ways, we may be chastised with yet heavier judgments. 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.”

When the British announced that they would blockade Boston Harbor on June 1, 1774, Thomas Jefferson drafted a “Day of Fasting,” which was introduced into the Virginia House of Burgesses by Robert Carter Nicholas with the support of Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee and George Mason, and 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 on June 1, 1774: “Went to church, fasted all day.”

On April 15, 1775, four days before the Battle of Lexington and Concord, the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, led by John Hancock, proclaimed:

“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 their sins to implore the Forgiveness of all our Transgression.”

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