The power of repentance can be seen in the history of our nation. In the midst of our civil war, in March of 1863, President Abraham Lincoln called for a “day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.” He said he was motivated by the fact that through “the confession of the nation’s sins and transgressions in humble sorrow,” the Lord would show the nation “mercy and pardon.” Lincoln reminded people that the “Holy Scriptures” promise that “those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”
He then proceeded to make one of the most insightful spiritual statements ever put into words by a President:1
And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment, inflicted upon us, for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole People?
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown.
But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own.
Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
Lincoln ended the proclamation by calling on all Americans to set aside the day of Thursday, April 30, 1863, as “a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer.” He urged them “to abstain on that day from their secular pursuits and to unite at their several places of public worship…”
Can you imagine an American President issuing such a proclamation today? Members of Congress would undoubtedly introduce motions for his impeachment, based upon his violation of “the separation of church and state.”
Our nation has secularized and paganized so quickly since the 1950s that most Americans today could not even conceive of a President calling the nation to prayer. Yet many did so, and some even offered public prayers themselves.
Take Franklin Roosevelt for example. As the D-Day landings were taking place on the French beaches of Normandy in June of 1944, President Roosevelt led the nation in prayer via a national radio broadcast. The prayer lasted 3 minutes and 36 seconds and included these words:2
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.
They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…
I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts…
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogancies. Lead us to the saving of our country…
Thy will be done, Almighty God. Amen.
Audio copies of this great prayer can be found all over the Internet. I urge you to find a copy and listen to it. It will thrill your soul. Yet, when the World War II Memorial was being planned for the mall in Washington, D.C., the Obama Administration successfully opposed any mention of the prayer or any quote from it.3
Another example of how far and how quickly our nation has strayed from God can be found in a speech given in 1954 by Chief Justice Earl Warren to the National Prayer Breakfast. Warren was the former Governor of California and was appointed Chief Justice by President Eisenhower in 1953. Warren had this to say about the heritage of our nation:4
I believe no one can read the history of our country without realizing that the Good Book and the spirit of the Savior have from the beginning been our guiding geniuses. Whether we look to the first charter of Virginia or the Charter of New England or the Charter of Massachusetts Bay or the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut, the same objective is present — a Christian land governed by Christian principles.
I believe the entire Bill of Rights came into being because of the knowledge our forefathers had of the Bible and their belief in it…
I like to believe we are living today in the spirit of the Christian religion. I like also to believe that as long as we do so, no great harm can come to our country.
Again, can you imagine a Supreme Court nominee today speaking such words? He would be dismissed as a religious fanatic who was unworthy to serve our nation in the judiciary.
Or, consider the unanimous Supreme Court decision rendered in 1892 (Holy Trinity v United States) in which the Court stated that our nation was not only historically and culturally religious, but that its very system of government and laws was based on a Christian worldview. The Court declared, “This is a religious people… this is a Christian nation.”5
One hundred and fourteen years later, in 2006, President Obama joyfully and proudly declared, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of nonbelievers.”6 He could have also added that we have become a nation of pagans.
There is no doubt that we have jettisoned our Christian heritage in favor of a society dominated by secularism and paganism. And we are reaping the consequences as we witness the moral collapse of our society.
In the third and final segment of our look at what America desperately needs, we’ll cover the warning given in Romans 1.
1) Abraham Lincoln, “Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day,” www.
2) FDR Presidential Library, “Franklin Roosevelt’s D-Day Prayer,” http://docs.
3) Todd Starnes, “Obama Administration Opposes FDR Prayer at WWII Memorial,”
4) Roger Schultz, “A Christian America: Earl Warren and Our Christian Roots.”
5) Justia, “Church of the Holy Trinity v. United States 143 U.S. 457 (1892),”
6) Sojourners, “Transcript: Obama’s 2006 Sojourners Call to Renewal Address
on Faith and Politics,” https://sojo.net/articles/transcript-obamas-2006-sojourn
1 CommentLeave a Comment
While I wholeheartedly agree with you that we need to repent as a nation to see the blessings of our God, I do not see pushing the parallels to biblical Israel to the USA since there is a promise of national restoration for them but not for the USA. The USA is not mentioned in the Scriptures and thus we cannot make the parallel. We should by all means pray for our nation and leaders as instructed in Scripture, but understand that God has not promised to deliver this nation in any respects. We, as Christians, are to be expecting the soon return of the Lord to take us out of this world, not for the restoration of this nation to His favor (as national Israel) or to change the degradation we have sunk into of our own making. May God grant mercy on our sinful condition and show compassion.