Prayer Targets: Pray for America's Thanksgiving; Family Resources
November 22, 2017
In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Th 5:18
Dear Praying Friends,
Several states claim the first American Thanksgiving as having taken place on their soil, not in Massachusetts. But history has chosen the First Pilgrim Thanksgiving as the forerunner of our Thanksgiving today. Half the people who came on the Mayflower died that winter, but with faith in God, bound together by the Mayflower Compact, they had faith for the future. After their first meager harvest in 1621, they celebrated joyously with prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and feasting, and invited their native neighbors to join them. One hundred and fifty-five years later, the English monarchy tried to impose the same religious and political tyranny upon the 13 colonies that the Pilgrims escaped in 1620.
When the War for Independence commenced in 1775, the Continental Congress united Americans across the colonies in a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer for America. War raged through the summer. The Colonial militia took a beating at Bunker, yet wrested Boston out of British control. In November, the city fathers of Waterford called for a day of Thanksgiving throughout the colony, as had long been the custom. Amid war and threat of annihilation, they gave thanksgiving to God. Read their proclamation:
A Proclamation for Public Thanksgiving
Although in consequence of the unnatural, cruel, and barbarous measures, adopted and pursued by the British Administration, great and distressing calamities are brought upon our oppressed country, and on this colony in particular; we feel the dreadful effects of Civil War, by which America is stained with the blood of her valiant sons, who have bravely fallen in the laudable Defense of our Rights and Privileges; Our Capital, once the Seat of Justice, Opulence and Virtue, is unjustly wrested from its proper Owners, who are obliged to free from the Iron Hand of Tyranny, or are held in the unrelenting Arms of Oppression:—Our seaports greatly distressed, and Towns burnt by the Foes, who have acted the Part of barbarous Incendiaries. —And although the wise and holy Governor of the World, has in his righteous Providence, sent Droughts into this Colony, and wasting Sickness into many of our Towns; yet we have the greatest Reason to adore and praise the Supreme Disposer of Events, who deals infinitely better with us than we deserve; and amidst all his Judgments hath remembered Mercy, by causing the Voice of Hezlin again to be heard amongst us;— Instead of Famine, affording to an ungrateful People a Competency of the Necessaries and Comforts for Life; in remarkably preserving and protecting our Troops, when in apparent Danger, while our Enemies, with all their boasted Skill and Strength, have met with Loss, Disappointment, and Defeat;— and in the Course of his good Providence, the Father of Mercies hath bestowed upon us, many other Favors, which call for our grateful Acknowledgment:
Therefore, We have thought fit, with the Advice of the Council and House of Representatives, to appoint Thursday the Twenty-third Day of November Instant, to be observed as a Day of public THANKSGIVING, throughout this Colony; hereby calling upon Ministers and People, to meet for religious Worship in said Day, and devoutly to offer up their unfeigned Praises to Almighty God, the Source and benevolent Bestower of all Good, for his affording the necessary Means of Subsistence, though our Commerce has been prevented, and the Supplies from the Fishery denied us.— That such a Measure of Health is enjoyed among us; that the Lives of our Officers and Soldiers have been so remarkably preserved, while our Enemies have fell before them;— That the vigorous Efforts which have been used to excite the Savage Vengeance of the Wilderness, and rouse the Indians to Arms, that an unavoidable Destruction might come upon our Frontiers, have been almost miraculously defeated;—That our unnatural Enemies, instead of Ravaging the Country with uncontrolled Sway, are confined within such narrow Limits, to their own Mortification and Distress, environed by an American Army, brave and determined; — That such a Band of union founded upon the sect Principles, unites the American Colonists;—that our Rights and Privileges, both Civil and Religious, are so far preserved to us, notwithstanding all the Attempts of our barbarous Enemies to deprive us of them— And to offer up humble and fervent Prayers to Almighty God, for the Whole British Empire; especially for the United American Colonies; —that he would bless our Civil Rulers, and lead them into wise and prudent Measures in this dark, and difficult Day:— That he would endow our General Course with all that Wisdom which is profitable to direct:— That he would graciously Smile upon our Endeavor to restore Peace, preserve our rights and Privileges, and hand them down to Posterity:—That he would give Wisdom to the American Congress, equal to their important Station:— That he would direct the Generals, and the American Armies, wherever employed, and give them Success and Victory:— That he would preserve and strengthen the Harmony of the United Colonies:—That he would pour out his Spirit upon all Orders of Men, through the Land, bring us to a hearty Repentance and Reformation; purity and sanctify all his Churches:— That he would make Ours Emanuel’s Land:— That he would spread the knowledge of the Redeemer through the whole Earth, and fill the World with his Glory. And all servile Labor is forbidden on said Day.
Given under our Hands at the Council-Chamber, in Watertown, this Fourth Day of November, in the Year of the Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-five.
We may not be fighting a war with muskets, swords, and cannonballs, but we are fighting a spiritual battle to protect and preserve what is good in our land. Many Americans have been overwhelmed, especially those who do not have a relationship with the Lord and strong church connections. Many have become averse to everything we believe. We are fighting wars abroad against radical Islam. We’re threatened with nuclear destruction by North Korea. We are engaged in a cultural, political, and ideological war to preserve faith, family, and freedom. Many wars are raging simultaneously: Christianity vs. atheism, the occult, false religion, and paganism; biblical family values vs. hedonism, family disintegration, and sexual slavery; free enterprise vs. socialism; mental health vs. dependence on drugs and alcohol; purity of mind vs. pornography; law and order vs. anarchy; love of money (mammon) vs. eternal values (God); life vs. unlimited abortion; church and national unity vs. racism; religious liberty vs. government-enforced LGBT tyranny; controlled borders vs. unrestrained immigration; and involved in all of this and more is the never-ending war between good and evil, the kingdom of God vs. the kingdom of Satan (Eph 6:10-20).
This Thanksgiving, there are powerful similarities between our present circumstances and the situation of the city elders of Waterford who called for a day of wholehearted thanksgiving throughout their colony. For them, Thanksgiving was not just a sign of gratitude to God for his sustenance and blessing amid a difficult war, it was and is a sign of God’s sovereignty, reign, and ultimate victory over Great Britain, and all the tyrants of history. Please make this Thanksgiving a powerful time of true thanksgiving for you and your family, a time of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, and feasting. Give God thanks boldly and enthusiastically! On Thanksgiving 2017, may we pray in unity with our forebears in 1775.
Thanksgiving Family Resources – Each year, dads and moms, uncles and aunts, grandmas and grandpas are all faced with the dilemma – how to make our family gathering a true, God-centered celebration. Last week I highlighted the resources Dr. Kenyn Cureton produced to help pastors prepare for their Thanksgiving church service. This week, as I read through his footnoted sermon, “Thanksgiving: A Uniquely American Holiday,” his Thanksgiving PowerPoint, and special Thanksgiving Bulletin, I sensed the Lord saying that laymen could use this material to help craft their effort to bring God into the center of their Thanksgiving gathering. Even folks with no family can read these materials, glory in the goodness of God, and praise him for what he has done in our nation since 1620. We can all lift our hearts in deep thanks to our Creator God, our Savior, Lord, and soon-coming King.
Finally, because Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, I won’t give you a long list of prayer topics. But I will pray. Most families are far from perfect. Most have believers and non-believers at their family gatherings, some family members have domineering personalities, others peculiar personality quirks. Some are liberal Democrats, conservative Republicans, Libertarians and every other stripe of political identity. Some are millennials, some boomers. Some families have deep hurts and unresolved family issues – unreconciled relationships going back many years.
- Lord, pour out your spirit upon America this Thanksgiving. Pour out upon the elderly, the middle-aged, young adults, teens, and children. Touch dads and moms and single parents. Bless the rich and the poor, the famous and obscure, working people, the married and the unmarried, families and those whose families are broken. May you use each person reading this to bring God’s grace and harmony into their homes. Please orchestrate their time together with family by your presence and guidance. Grant the heads of household wisdom and pastoral gifts the grace to encourage those they love. May miraculous healings take place by the thousands. Just as Unity is the theme of next year’s National Day of Prayer, grant Psalm 133 unity in our homes as we gather together tomorrow and over the weekend. May Spirit-led prayer flow from homes across the land, with the thanksgiving due to you. May You, Lord, Giver of all things, be glorified tomorrow, and every day! In Jesus’ name, Amen! (1 Chr 16: all; Ps 34:1; 37:25; 68:6; 92:1; 100: all; Psalm 136;Joel 2:28; Lk 17:1-8; Php 4:6; 1 Tim 2:1-2)
If yours is a strong Christian family that possesses the love of Christ, it’s not too late to invite someone to your Thanksgiving meal who has no family to be with: a neighbor, a college student, a widow or widower, an immigrant, or someone you know who is struggling in life and needs to know the Lord. Do pray for our president, our nation, and our servicemen at home and abroad. And offer the Lord lavish thanksgiving for all he has done for us as individuals, as families, as believers in Jesus Christ, and as Americans. John Maxwell sent me a link to his free Thanksgiving dinner questions to help get the conversation going. You can get a copy HERE. And don’t forget to download Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s “Thanksgiving: A Uniquely American Holiday,” his Thanksgiving PowerPoint, and special Thanksgiving Bulletin! As always, thank you for praying!