Help us, O God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake. (Ps. 79:9)

AS THE CIVIL WAR RAGED ON, Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States of America, signed a proclamation appointing a national day of prayer and fasting. Introduced on March 2, 1863, by Senator James Harlan of Iowa, Lincoln signed the proclamation on March 30, one month before the fast day was observed. An interesting event occurred later when the senator’s daughter married President Lincoln’s son Robert.

The proclamation stated it was “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.” The leaders of the day believed in the power of intercession.

Our psalm above, probably written after the Babylonians had leveled Jerusalem, records another story of a nation reeling from war. Like the United States during the Civil War, Israel experienced too much death, damage, and derision. But the psalmist got his bearings when he melded a time of intercession for God’s people with praise. When we own our dependence on God, confess our sins, and pray in unity, He does His part and delivers us.

Set aside a day of intercessory prayer for your nation.

Susan Browning Schulz is a wife and active mom of three grown children. She lives riverside in northwest Georgia and loves leading her small group.