When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God

When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God
1775 – 1784
Congress issues sixteen spiritual proclamations

From 1775 to 1784, the Congresses of the United States issued sixteen separate spiritual proclamations, calling Americans to humble themselves, fast, pray, and give thanks to God. Few realize that during the American War of Independence, Congress issued spiritual proclamations to the thirteen states in which they asked citizens to seek the Lord in one of the darkest moments of the nation’s history. Having been told for decades that America was birthed by deists, few Americans today can imagine that at one time Congress asked pastors to read their proclamations from their pulpits. In addition, Congress also asked that citizens cease their labor and gather into churches to observe the spiritual proclamations they issued. Citizens who truly wish to know what America’s Founding Fathers were like must read the spiritual proclamations of Congress for themselves.

NOTE: This series will not be fully published until December 2018.

About The Author

Dr. Stephen Flick

Stephen Flick heads Christian Heritage Fellowship, an organization dedicated to reclaiming America’s Christian Heritage and celebrating the life-changing influence of the Gospel around the world. Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is a writer and speaker and has authored numerous articles and books on America’s Christian heritage. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in history and Christian theology and has taught at the graduate level as full professor. He has been a licensed minster for nearly forty years and resides in East Tennessee. He and his late wife, Beth Anne, have two grown, married children and six grandchildren.

When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God

When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God
1775 – 1784
Congress issues sixteen spiritual proclamations

From 1775 to 1784, the Congresses of the United States issued sixteen separate spiritual proclamations, calling Americans to humble themselves, fast, pray, and give thanks to God. Few realize that during the American War of Independence, Congress issued spiritual proclamations to the thirteen states in which they asked citizens to seek the Lord in one of the darkest moments of the nation’s history. Having been told for decades that America was birthed by deists, few Americans today can imagine that at one time Congress asked pastors to read their proclamations from their pulpits. In addition, Congress also asked that citizens cease their labor and gather into churches to observe the spiritual proclamations they issued. Citizens who truly wish to know what America’s Founding Fathers were like must read the spiritual proclamations of Congress for themselves.

March 16, 1776: Second Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

The Christian influence upon the formation of the Thirteen English colonies prior to the American Revolution, may be seen everywhere in the historical records of each colony. During and following the Revolution, America's Founding Fathers continued to influence the politics of their states and nation with their Christian faith. One of the clearest evidences of this fact is seen in the Christian spiritual proclamations Congress issued from June 1775 to August 1784—sixteen proclamations in all.Second Congressional Fasting Proclamation These sixteen proclamations may be divided into two classifications. The first classification of proclamations issued by Congress included prayer and fasting proclamations. The second may be designated as thanksgiving. Of the sixteen spiritual proclama

March 7, 1778: Fourth Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

That the Founding Fathers in the Continental and Confederation Congresses issued sixteen proclamations calling the Thirteen States of America to fast, pray, and give thanks to God is a little-known fact to most Americans in the twenty-first century. Determined to rob America of its Christian origin, secularists, atheists, and the irreligious have widely sown misinformation, deceiving those who readily believe whatever they are told. But, the historical facts and records of Congress readily speak the truth to those who are willing to lend an ear.Fourth Congressional Fasting Proclamation Henry Laurens The Second Continental Congress had fled from Philadelphia for fear of attack from the British after the American loss of the Battle of Bradywine (September 11, 1777). After conven

November 16, 1778: Congressional Chaplains Provide Thanksgiving Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

Throughout the American War of Independence, Congress issued sixteen spiritual proclamations to the states. Generally, these proclamations requested each state to set aside a specific day for fasting, praying, giving thanks to God, or a combination of these spiritual disciplines. Though the practice of issuing such proclamations was begun the same year the Second Continental Congress convened (1775), it was not until November 1, 1777 that the first "thanksgiving" proclamation was issued. The most common practice of Congress was to select a small number of representatives from within itself to compose fasting and prayer proclamations in the spring of each year, and thanksgiving proclamations in the fall. But, for its second thanksgiving proclamation in November 1778, Congress brok

March 20, 1779: Fifth Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

Because America has forgotten the truth concerning her Christian heritage, secularists and the irreligious have successfully deceived the nation, resulting in cultural and moral decline. However, Christian Heritage Fellowship provides the historical evidence to demonstrate that America's Christian founding has been the source of her rise to global prominence. In our series, "When Congress Asked America to Fast, Pray, and Give Thanks to God," we provide the primary evidence that America's Founding Fathers were overwhelmingly and deeply committed Christians who practiced their faith in government and asked their states and nation to follow their example. The following article relates only one of the sixteen spiritual proclamations of Congress issued during the War of Independence tha

March 11, 1780: Sixth Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

During the American Revolution, Congress issued sixteen spiritual proclamations calling upon the Thirteen States to fast, pray, and give thanks to God. Congress usually designated a day when the proclamations were to be observed. So seriously did Congress take these Christian spiritual practices that it asked "that servile labour and recreations be forbidden on the said day."Sixth Congressional Fasting Proclamation Soon after the Second Continental Congress convened in May 1775, it began to observe the Christian disciplines of fasting, praying, and giving thanks to God according to the pattern already established in a number of the states. In the spring, it was common for some states to ask their citizens to fast and pray, and in the fall, thanksgiving proclamations were issued. Fol

March 20, 1781: Seventh Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

There is no historical evidence to support the myth that America's Founding Fathers were Deists or irreligious. Rather, just the opposite is true. Not only is the historical record replete with the Christian character of the English colonies that gave birth to America, but from the beginning of America as an independent nation following the War of Independence, all historical evidence points to the fact that the Founding Fathers accorded a place of influence to the principles of Christianity, though no single denomination was granted the right to dominate the life of government at the national level. The influence of Christianity upon American government during both the colonial era and the rise of America as an independent nation was affirmed by Congress many years ago.seventh Congres

March 19, 1782: Eighth Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

Far from pushing Christianity and religious observance from the life of government, the Continental Congress (and subsequent Confederation Congress) endorsed and encouraged Christian observances such as fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving. No single denomination or church was permitted to dominate at the congressional or national level, though most states endorsed established churches. This practice of allowing states to have their own state churches, but not a national church, continued under the Constitution.Eighth Congressional Fasting Proclamation A large part of contemporary legal studies—also known as "jurisprudence"—rejects the role America's Founding Fathers accorded to Christianity in public life. In doing so, judges and lawyers have abandoned the historic legal foundatio

October 11, 1782: Fourteenth Congressional Fasting Proclamation

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

In 1776, America's Continental Congress began to issue two spiritual proclamations a year until near the end of the War of Independence. Since November 1777 when Henry Laurens was President, Congress had issued a fall thanksgiving proclamation calling the states to remember their spiritual "duty" to offer praise for the divine grace shown to the nation. The type of personal sacrifice that many of America's Founding Fathers endured at the hands of their British enemies is exemplified in the life of this president of Congress—Henry Laurens. Discussion of this spiritual proclamation of Congress provides an opportunity to briefly unfold his enormous personal loss with regard to his son, Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens.Fourteenth Congressional Fasting Proclamation  Read more...

October 1780: Congress Offers Thanksgiving for Divine Providence

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

At the end of 1780, the endurance of American revolutionary forces had been severely tested by British military might. So dire was the situation that General George Washington pled for assistance from the Continental Congress. Undaunted by the looming prospect of defeat, Congress—following a pattern of fasting, prayer, and thanksgiving—once again called upon the states to establish a day of thanksgiving to be observed by their citizens. That year Congress asked the states to recognize December 7, 1780 as a day of thanksgiving for God's providential care.Congress Offers Thanksgiving for Divine Providence Article Contents President of Congress—Son-in-Law of Pastor Historical Setting Committee Composes Proclamation For Further Consideration Related Articles

October 1783: Seventh Congressional Day of Thanksgiving

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

From June 1775 to August 1784, the Continental Congress issued sixteen spiritual proclamations, calling all Thirteen States to fast, pray, and give thanks to God. During this period of time, Congress most commonly issued proclamations in the spring calling upon the states to fast and pray. And, in the fall of the year, Congress issued proclamations of thanksgiving. This alternating pattern was first observed in the New England colonies and later was brought into the Southern colonies. In Virginia, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and several other members of the Virginia House of Burgesses advocated for these observances.[1] Seventh Congressional Day of Thanksgiving Tragically, contemporary attempts to recount the history of America often completely ignore the fo

1784 Congressional Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving

Written by: Dr. Stephen Flick / Date: October 29, 2018

On August 3, 1784, the Continental Congress issued a proclamation for a "day of solemn prayer and thanksgiving." It was the sixteenth such proclamation issued by Congress throughout the years of the American Revolution. From June of 1775 to August of 1784, Congress generally issued at least one proclamation calling the states to prayer, fasting, and thanksgiving. Usually, two such proclamations were issued each year with one in the spring calling Americans to "fasting, humiliation, and prayer," while a second proclamation in the fall generally invited citizens to "thanksgiving and prayer." Prior to the ratification and implementation of the United States Constitution in 1789, the August 1784 congressional day of prayer and thanksgiving proclamation was the last of its kind. That Am

About The Author

Dr. Stephen Flick

Stephen Flick heads Christian Heritage Fellowship, an organization dedicated to reclaiming America’s Christian Heritage and celebrating the life-changing influence of the Gospel around the world. Concerned with the cultural decay of America, Dr. Flick has sought to provide answers to fellow Christians (and unbelievers) concerning the questions and objections to Christianity often posed by secularists and the irreligious. Dr. Flick is a writer and speaker and has authored numerous articles and books on America’s Christian heritage. He earned his Ph.D. from Drew University in history and Christian theology and has taught at the graduate level as full professor. He has been a licensed minster for nearly forty years and resides in East Tennessee. He and his late wife, Beth Anne, have two grown, married children and six grandchildren.

Quote Cloud

"...In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publicly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offenses against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity..."
– Congressional Prayer Proclamation
Journals of Congress, 4:208-209.
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