The National Days of Prayer, fasting and humiliation are from the state not the church. They are from examples of Old Testament Kings of Israel like Jehoshaphat, who called the people to prayer when Israel was threatened with war with the surrounding nations.
Jehoshaphat committed the situation to the Lord, because he acknowledged that only God could save a nation. He professed complete dependence on the Lord and took comfort in His promises and deliverances. And indeed God was faithful and He fought for Israel. (See 2 Chronicles 20)
The power of prayer and fasting to shape history in Britain’s Biblical Christian heritage can be demonstrated in the example of the King George VI in which God delivered the nation of England through a series of miracles that saved Britain and civilization as a whole.
The Lord had raised godly leaders at that time just like He raised King Cyprus. One man was King George VI who is reportedly to have been a man of prayer. There is a little known story of the days when King George VI was in the Royal Navy. His personal messenger was instructed to visit his cabin at certain times every day. He was to knock, enter and await instructions.
One day the messenger carried out his instructions and found the Prince on his knees, praying. A little embarrassed, the man stood and waited. After a few minutes, the king-to-be rose to his feet, put an arm around the messenger’s shoulders and said: “If ever you find me on my knees, remember there is room for you by my side.”
The preaching of John and Charles Wesley saved Britain from the French revolution. In his dairy John Wesley tells us that in 1756, King George II called Britain for a day of solemn prayer and fasting because of an impending invasion of the French. Wesley wrote,
The fast day was a glorious day, such as London has scarce seen since the Restoration. Every church in the city was more than full, and a solemn seriousness sat on every face. Surely God hears prayer, and there will yet be a lengthening of our tranquillity.
Wesley later added “Humility was turned into national rejoicing for the threatened invasion by the French was averted.”
So when King George VI called a nation to pray, seven times God answered miraculously, within days of the nation humbling itself and praying. These days of prayer called by the king during the World War II saved Britain from Hitler. Most of us believe that once more we must rise up in prayer to resist the enemy within our gates.
In his trilogy, entitled, The Trumpet Sounds for Britain, David E. Gardner traces in detail how God has intervened in many instances in English history in order to ensure that the Protestant Christian position in England should continue to be maintained.
Rev. Gardner went to be with the Lord in 2002 just before the trilogy was republished. He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War when an emergency on a submarine caused him to recognise the miraculous deliverance of God.
This personal experience of God’s miraculous intervention helped him to understand what God had done for the people of Britain as a whole, many times in their history. He recognised the signs of decline of Britain from its Judeo-Christian heritage. He was the watchman on the wall who researched, wrote and published pamphlets and books to call the nation back to God through repentance and prayer.
He takes us back from victory with the Spanish Armada which was so decisive that the shadow of Spanish power—which for thirty years had darkened the political scene and how it was removed. He points out that let us never forget that it was Almighty God who had changed the course of the British history.
All this was due entirely to these mighty interventions which had brought about such an utter defeat of the Spaniards. The Spanish Empire had already extended its dominions to the West Indies and the western coast of the South American continent as far as Mexico and Peru.
There had been plot after plot in England to overthrow her protestant Queen and to reintroduce the Roman Catholic faith in the realm, and all these attempts had been encouraged by King Phillip himself, by the Pope, and by English Roman Catholic exiles operating against England from the Continent.
But God in His mercy gave England the victory. Then first forward in 1918 during World War I , the Germans had broken through the Allied line, there were heavy causalities, and reserves were practically exhausted and the situation was becoming quite desperate for the Allied armies.
What happened next is described in an article which appeared in the winter 1942 Journal of the Brigade of Guards as quoted by David E. Gardner:
As the break-through continued, “The Germans concentrated high explosive and machine-gun fire at Bethune, in Belgium, the focal point of their advance, preparatory to a bayonet attack in mass formation. Suddenly the enemy shell lifted and concentrated on a slight rise beyond the town. The ground here was absolutely bare—yet enemy machine guns and shells raked it from end to end with a hail of lead. As suddenly as it started, the enemy’s fire ceased.
The dense line of German troops, which had started to move forward to victory in mass formation, halted dead. And as the British watched, they saw that line break! The Germans threw down everything they had—and fled in frantic panic. How did this happen? Gardener’s father who was in action during the war told him about what really happened and he Gardner came across an authentic account of what happened and why there was a sudden turn of events.
I will not go into the details of the exact account, but according to one senior German officer, a member of the Prussian Guard who was taken prisoner immediately afterwards, the explanation was there was an Angel called “English White Calvary” which was plain to those who were there, both German and British. They were all aware that something by a way of divine intervention had taken place to halt the Germans.
They was a fine figure of a man, whose hair, like spun gold, shone in an aura around his head. The Prussian Guard said that “By his side was a great sword, but his hands lay quietly holding the reins, as his huge white charger bore him proudly forward. In spite of heavy shell and concentrated machine-gun fire the White Calvary advanced, remorsely as fate, like the incoming tide surging over a sandy beach….
Then a great fear fell on me, and I turned to flee; yes, I, an officer of the Prussian Guard, fled, panic stricken, and around me were hundreds of terrified men, whimpering like children, throwing away their arms and accoutrements in order not to have their movements impeded…all running. Their one desire was to get away from that advancing White Calvary; above all, from their inspiring leader whose hair shone like a golden aureole. That is all I have to tell you. We are beaten. The German Army is broken.
They may be fighting, but we have lost the war; we are beaten–by the White Calvary…..I cannot understand…I cannot understand…..”
There was plenty of evidence available that God had worked to turn the tide so many times. He moved to deliver in response to the nation’s prayers, which is proof positive that Almighty God not only answers the prayers of individuals but also of nations.
It’s been recorded by historians that National Days of Prayer had played a very important part of Britain’s prayer history. In the twentieth century, British National Days of Prayer were called by the monarch on the advice of the Parliament.
Both King George V and King George VI called the people to prayer on fifteen separate occasions between 1939 and 1945 and all these Calls to National Prayer were related to the First and Second World Wars.
The last National Day of Prayer had been called in 1857 that is almost 60 years since the last two World Wars and this practice of National Day of Prayer had been forgotten. It took a long time for the government to agree on a call to prayer because the men in power were mainly concerned about what the Germans would think of such a call.
So the Christian Herald and the Evangelical Alliance played a significant role in promoting the cause of a National Day of Prayer. They both organized a petition of some 84,000 names which included 9 mud stained sheets of signatures from soldiers who were in France.
After three years, in October 1917 the Parliament agreed and the call to prayer was made by the King in November for a National Day of prayer on January 6th.
After the practice was reinstated, subsequent National Days of Prayer were called. The first National Day of Prayer of the century was on 6th January 1918 and the last was on 6th July 1947 which is almost 70 years ago after Winston Churchill had been named Prime Minister on May 10, 1940. More on Britain’s prayer history in our next post.