Congress and Founding Fathers pray
You cannot underestimate the good prayer and fasting that you have done. He has often 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 fasting and praying men had on this nation.
The Continental Congress made its first official act, a call to prayer, on September 6, 1774, after receiving word that British troops had attacked Boston. The first sentence in Congress was delivered on September 7, 1774, at Carpenter’s Hall, Philadelphia.
The Library of Congress, from the collected reports of the various patriots, recorded on a famous historical poster the effect of that first sentence on Congress:
Washington was kneeling there, and Henry, Randolph, Rutledge, Lee, and Jay, and beside him were bowing reverently, the Puritan Patriots of New England, who at the time had reason to believe that an armed soldiery was wasting their humble homes. he believed that Boston had been bombed and destroyed.
They prayed fervently ‘for America, for Congress, for the province of Massachusetts Bay, and especially for the city of Boston,’ and that they may realize the emotion with which they turned imploring heaven for divine interposition and – ‘It was enough,’ says Mr. Adams, ‘to melt a heart of stone. I saw the tears well up in the eyes of the grave old Pacific Quakers of Philadelphia. ‘
Fasting is a means of humbling ourselves individually and as a nation before God. Moses taught the Israelites to “afflict their souls” by fasting (Leviticus 16:31). Devout Jews interpret this as a command from God to fast and strictly adhere to it (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. On November 15, 1636, a law was passed that allowed the Governor and his assistants “to order solemn days of humiliation with fasting, etc. And, also, thanksgiving as an occasion will be offered.”
The Virginia assembly passed a resolution on June 1, 1774 as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. George Washington, our first president, set a pattern for the leaders of this country to fast and pray. The Washington daily records: “I went to church and fasted all day.”
Our country has priority 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 brink of war with France.
Under our fourth president, James Madison, when they were at war with Great Britain, both houses of Congress passed a joint resolution in which they wanted 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 on the nation to pray and fast for national peace and unity. Lincoln’s second call on March 30, 1863 was to repent as a nation through prayer and fasting. The third proclamation of the Honest Abe was on the first Thursday in August 1864. He made a special plea for those in positions of authority to seek God with fasting and prayer.
The power wielded by prayer and fasting cannot be underestimated, as petitioners humble themselves before the throne of grace and open the arm of the Almighty to intervene in the earthly affairs of men. In fact, “we do not have” because “we do not ask” (James 4: 2). Could it be that we are so absorbed in responding to the demands of our flesh that we cannot hear from our spirit? If we weren’t so quick to indulge our flesh in whatever it is asking for, we might have time and attention to ask for the spiritual blessings that ultimately affect the natural world we live in.