National fear over the flu formerly known as swine. A worldwide economic crisis, felt particularly strongly in Arizona. Serious threats of Islamic terrorism, and belligerence from nutty leaders in Iran, Russia and North Korea.
And a sense that the team in charge really doesn’t have any idea what it is doing.
It seems like America is in trouble.
But we’ve been in tough spots before. On Thursday, 146 years will have passed since Abraham Lincoln called the nation to prayer and repentance in the midst of a civil war that claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of young Americans. Famously, Lincoln wrote in his April 30, 1863 Proclamation for “A Day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer”:
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.
I’m not really concerned about whether it is politically correct to call people to pray, but I think Lincoln was on to something. Next week is the National Day of Prayer, and I’m delighted to be speaking at a citywide prayer breakfast in Flagstaff.
But a number of national and state leaders have asked us to start a week early, by remembering Lincoln’s Proclamation and spending Thursday, April 30, 2009 as a day of humiliation, fasting and prayer. I will be reading Lincoln’s entire Proclamation at a Christian prayer event Thursday at the State Capitol at 11 a.m. I hope to see you there, but if not, you can follow along at home — please consider taking Thursday, April 30, as a special day to fast and pray for our nation.