During the Civil War, on MARCH 30, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer:

“Whereas, the Senate of the United States devoutly recognizing the Supreme Authority and just Government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations,

has, by a resolution, requested the President to designate and set apart a day for national prayer and humiliation; 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 chastisement in this world,

may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil warwhich now desolates the landmay 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 Powerto confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.

… Now, therefore, in compliance with the request and fully concurring in the view of the Senate,

I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the30TH DAY OF APRIL, 1863, as a Day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer.

… And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worship and their respective homes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.

… All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the Divine teachings, thatthe united cry of the nation will be heard on high and answered with blessing no less than the pardon of our national sinsand the restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.

… In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington, this 30th day of March, A.D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. Abraham Lincoln. By the President: William H. Seward, Secretary of State.”

Taken from Bill Federer’s excellent newsletter here. 

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