Around five weeks into the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Benjamin Franklin recognized the members were in the midst of a number of divisive issues, at a stalemate while drafting the U. S. Constitution. Soon the delegates would return home to their states. He rose to speak to the assembled delegates, and appealed for reconciliation and for God’s intervention. He challenged them to pray.
’s appeal is recorded here: Franklin
"In the beginning of the contest with
, when we were sensible
of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine protection. Our
prayers, sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were
engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending
in our favor. . . . And have we now
forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His
assistance? I have lived, sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more
convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men.
And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable
that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the
Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that
build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His
concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the
builders of Providence . . . . I therefore beg
leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and
its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning
before we proceed to business." Babel
|"Benjamin Franklin by Joseph Siffrein Duplessis" |
National Portrait Gallery,
228 years later, many Americans think our nation is in crisis; violence, economic, ethnic, cultural and religious divisions are rampant. People are cynical. Corruption, deceit, and self-serving ambition are pervasive in all areas of government. How can individuals influence all that besets our nation? We can pray. There is power in prayer.
“I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
1 Timothy 2:1-2
A number of Christian leaders are calling for Americans to observe the nine days between the Day of the Ascension of Jesus and the Day of Pentecost, (May 15th to
for repentance, prayer, and fasting. Note that repentance, prayer, and fasting
go hand in hand. Jesus, as well as His disciples fasted and prayed. There are
many references throughout the Old and New Testaments to fasting and prayer.
This spiritual discipline is not relegated to the early church. Fasting and
praying are Bible-based disciplines that Jews and Christians have practiced
throughout history. Many people have discovered that observing periods of
fasting enhances their prayer lives.
There is no right or wrong fast. It is more about the condition of your heart than it is about the duration or type of fast. It can be as simple as giving up a meal a day or fasting for a longer period. Evaluating your individual health needs should be taken into consideration when determining how long to fast or what kind of a fast is best for you.
A repentant heart is essential in fasting.
“Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. Who knows? He may turn and relent and leave behind a blessing— grain offerings and drink offerings for the Lord your God.
Blow the trumpet in
, declare a holy fast, call a
sacred assembly. Zion
Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders,
gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep between the portico and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, Lord. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’”
"Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain."
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
2 Chron. 7:14