Prayer Targets: George Washington's Prayer Targets; Heavy Prayers for Thanksgiving Week
November 25, 2014
The “Father of our Country,” George Washington, the first President of the United States, declared the first national Thanksgiving Day in his first year and first term of office, to be observed on the 26th of November, 1789:
Thanksgiving Proclamation, 3 October 1789
By the President of the United States of America. A Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor—and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be—That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks—for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation—for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war—for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed—for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions—to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually—to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed—to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shown kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord—To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us—and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789. Geo. Washington (See GW Papers, UVA, National Archives, Text, History of Thanksgiving National Holiday)
Abraham Lincoln made Thanksgiving a National Holiday in 1863 and since then (with a brief interlude in 1939 when it was shifted to the 3rd Thursday), Thanksgiving has been observed on the 4th Thursday of every November. Washington’s proclamation serves as a model and guide for every generation. These were his “prayer targets” and point for point, modified for our current circumstance, they can, and I believe should be used in our prayers, today.
This proclamation, in keeping with Washington’s private prayers published after his death, the Thanksgiving proclamations of the Continental Congresses, and Colonial Governors and legislatures for decades prior to the Founding, all mixed thanksgiving with humble prayers for the pardon of our personal and national transgressions. Our Fathers understood the need of forgiveness for sin which would stand in the way of God’s continued blessing. Today, given our nation’s radical departure from God and His moral, spiritual and civil laws, together with our own private sins, our Thanksgiving prayer should include humbling ourselves with repentance and all the elements of 2 Chronicles 7:14 – and thanksgiving for His promise of national healing.
Lord, no nation in history has been so blessed as our own. Thank You for Your grace and mercy so extravagantly poured out upon America. Thank you for principles of life, liberty, righteousness and justice our Fathers built into our culture and civil government. Thank you for a praying remnant throughout history; that, amid spiritual crisis, has held on to the horns of Your Heavenly Altar, pleading the shed blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, holding fast to Him who is the Anchor of our Souls and the Benefactor of everything thing good we have received. Thank you for a system of government built the principles of liberty, self-government and the rule of law, and not the rule of kings and dictators. Thank you for valiant men and women, boys and girls across America who are taking a bold stand for Jesus Christ and their freedom to proclaim Him, amid an increasingly hostile culture. Thank you that efforts to stamp out the influence of Christianity in our nation and its history have not prevailed and cannot; as Christianity is etched in our monuments, our buildings, our holidays, our history books, but most of all in the hearts and minds of men and women across America, God-given faith, which cannot be eradicated. May revival in our churches and awakening in our nation come forth speedily. May You be mightily glorified in our churches, communities, homes, and every sphere of culture! Thank you for the Christian leaders You have raised up in our generation who burn with the same faith our believing forefathers possessed. Grant them favor, and may our children and grandchildren know the blessing of that faith and Your favor until Your soon return! (Ex 18:21; 1 Chr 16:8-36; Ps 30:10-12; 75:1 ff; 95:1-7a; Is 61:1; Pr 22:28; Acts 4:20; Eph 1:3-12; 9:23; Heb 13:7; 17; Jas 1:17; Jude 1:3)
We pray, too, for the peace of Jerusalem, knowing that our safety is linked to theirs, our peace to their peace. Indeed the peace and prosperity of the entire earth is linked to that sacred city. May our own nation, yet again, become the shining City on a Hill envisioned by our forefathers. May we be blessed and be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. May our missionaries and Christian envoys be welcomed and fruitful in every land, and May the nations have cause for Thanksgiving, too, because of the blessings you bestow upon them. To You, Lord, be all the glory! (Gen 12:1-3; Ps 33:12; Pr 122:6; Zech 12:2-10; Mt 5:13-15; 28:18-20; Lk 12:42-43)
Finally, each of you who joins us in prayer each week, may you enjoy Thanksgiving with your families, church families and friends. May we remember the poor and needy always, but especially this week, as I know many of you do. As you are able to make prayer time, please consider these urgent matters: 1) Marriage: the Sixth Circuit Court ruling that upholds natural marriage and will be appealed to the Supreme Court; 2) International Colloquium on marriage: standing for natural marriage in the public square, Tony Perkins; 3) Obama unilateral immigration reform: Pro-Family groups object; Heritage: Cost to Taxpayers: $40 Billion per Year; 4) Non-profits’ HHS Mandate Appeal Rejected; House Files Long-awaited Lawsuit on Obamacare; 5) Situation in Ferguson, MO; 6) Lt. Gen. Boykin on Defense Secy. Chuck Hagel’s resignation (hear FRC Senior Fellow Lt. Col Bob McGinnis – starts 17:00 min); 6) the continuing problem with religious liberty in the military. 7) Nuclear Iran gets 7 more months. 8) EU to vote on “Palestinian” State on Thanksgiving 9) read FRC’s latest Social Conservative Review for exhaustive public policy prayer grist. Thanks be to God Who alone can govern all these matters. Thank you for praying with us over these weighty matters throughout the year! God bless you!