When the Civil War was coming on the horizon, God prepared the nation in advance. The first thing he did was to move some men in New York to pray for revival in the land. This became the Second Great Awakening which stretched from the late 1790s through the 1840s. The nation experienced millions of conversions for Jesus and a tremendous growth in church attendance.
The major leaders included Charles Finney, Lyman Beecher (Harriet Beecher Stowe’s father) and Peter Cartwright. The move of God was marked by an emphasis on personal piety. Thus, morality rose above sin due to individual decisions for Christ. Out of this grew a period of religious activism from the late 1850s to the early 1900s which included outreaches to the poor and the establishment of hospitals to care for the sick. It was at a Cartwright revival meeting that Abraham Lincoln’s parents met.
After a series of debates in 1858 that gave Lincoln national visibility, he was invited to give a speech in New York City in 1859 denouncing slavery and its spread. It was a triumph making him an overnight political star. He was elected in 1860.
When Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, it had become obvious that the nation was on an inescapable path toward war. In fact, the Civil War began the next month with the attack on Fort Sumter. It was the national return to Jesus that carried the soldiers and families on both sides through the war so that slavery, the major sin of the nation, could be purged.
Today, the nation is faced with another decision that is just as capable of destroying us forever. We have far exceeded the wickedness that existed in the 1790s with our pornography. We are arresting and imprisoning good law enforcement officers while setting criminals free. This condition was also evident during the dispute at the recent Democratic National Convention over whether or not to include God in its platform.
In addition, “a culture of death” as Dr. James Dobson has called it, reigns over America. We have now killed more than 55 million babies since 1973. Some states have also legalized euthanasia. If that were not enough, we are abandoning our support of Israel. This by itself, according to the Word of God, is enough to doom this nation. What is amazing to me is that the media have said nothing about these moral issues.
Just as the election of 1860 was the most important election since George Washington became president, so too, this election is the most important since the Civil War. That is why a growing group of church leaders and ministries has been calling for 40 days of prayer and fasting before this election.
These church organizations include the Assemblies of God (The 7:14 Prayer Initiative), the Southern Baptist Convention (the 40/40 Prayer Vigil), www.ifmypeople2012.org, the National Prayer Committee, Awaken America, and the Western Wall Prayer Initiative. There have even been individual churches publicaly calling for prayer such as John Hagee’s Cornerstone Church and the Williamsville Christian Church. This call is crossing denominational lines and is becoming universal among born again Christians.
This election is posing a clear moral choice for us between life and death. As Dr. Dobson pointed out in his own recent call for prayer, “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live …” (Deuteronomy 30:19) Will you join with me by participating in this time of prayer and fasting for our nation?
Frank Clark, author of the column “Frankly Speaking,” is a retired Christian school teacher and principal. He has been married for 44 years and is the father of four grown children and 12 grandchildren. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.