King Louis XV sent Admiral d’Anville to Boston with the most powerful fleet of its day: 73 ships with 800 cannons and 13,000 troops. His orders: “Consign Boston to flames, ravage New England.” Massachusetts Governor William Shirley declared a Day of Prayer and Fasting, October 16, 1746, to pray for deliverance. Boston citizens gathered in the Old South Meeting House where Rev. Thomas Prince prayed: “Send Thy tempest, Lord, upon the water… scatter the ships of our tormentors!”
Historians record when he finished praying, the sky darkened, winds shrieked and the church bells rang “a wild, uneven sound… though no man was in the steeple.” A hurricane scattered the entire French fleet as far as the Caribbean. Lightning struck several ships, igniting gunpowder magazines, causing explosions and fire. Admiral d’Anville and 2,000 troops died, Vice-Admiral d’Estournelle threw himself on his sword. Boston was saved.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote about that day: “I stood in the Old South, saying humbly: ‘Let us pray!’ ...And even as I prayed the answering tempest came; … And I cried: "Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord!" (The Ballad of the French Fleet)
This great deliverance encouraged a printer in Philadelphia named Ben Franklin to propose a general fast which was approved by Pennsylvania's Council and published in the Pennsylvania Gazette, December 12, 1747.
“The calamities of a bloody war...seem every year more nearly to approach us... and there is just reason to fear that unless we humble ourselves before the Lord and amend our ways, we may be chastised with yet heavier judgments. We have...thought fit...to appoint...a Day of Fasting and Prayer, exhorting all, both ministers and people...to join with one accord in the most humble and fervent supplications that Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the rage of war among the nations…”
(Susie Federer, Miracles in American History, p. 13-15 AmericanMinute.com)
Dr. Ronnie Floyd has called for prayer for unity in America on the 2018 National Day of Prayer, May 3. Resources for leading your church and community to pray are available at nationaldayofprayer.org.
“The present spiritual crisis in America is calling us to pray for and take all necessary actions to come together as a nation. God is the only one who can bring unity, harmony, and oneness to America; therefore, we look only to Him in prayer. Call upon God to bring spiritual awakening now in America shaping the future of America, just as the great spiritual awakenings in our history have shaped our spiritual heritage.”
(National Day of Prayer Task Force)
“Lord, do it again!”