Chapter 14
 by Graham McLennan, National Gathering Executive Member & Treasurer


Christians surround New Parliament House with Prayer on the 7th May 1988. State Circle, ten abreast, for 3.5 kms!  This photograph enlarged and framed was presented to Federal Members and Senators during the First National Prayer Breakfast in the Great Hall, October 1988, by Dr. Graham McLennan on behalf of the Executive of the National Gathering with the reminder that God will "Bless this House" which became the theme of the Prayer Breakfast. 















On the 11th June 1738, John Wesley blew the first trumpet call of the great evangelical revival which was to have a deep and lasting effect on Britain and on those in succeeding generations. 

Fifty years later a Christian minister gave the first service on Australian soil. The Rev. Richard Johnson was recommended as Chaplain to the first fleet, because of his religious fervour, by men such as William Wilberforce and John Newton. At this service Johnson spoke from Psalm 116, Verse 12 "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits towards me". 

Almost 200 years earlier Pedro Fernandez de Quiros had named Australia "Australia del Espirito Santo" - the Great South Land of the Holy Spirit and earn't the Holy Jubilee which the Pope had conceded to the expedition. 

Fifty years after the arrival of the first fleet, the Governor of N.S.W., George Gipps, a Christian, proclaimed Sunday, November 2, 1838 a national day of fasting and humiliation because of the severe drought. Within two days heavy rains began to fall causing many to come down with the flu! (At one stage N.S.W. governed most of Australia and many of the South Pacific islands including New Zealand.) 

Fifty seven years later on the 11th September, 1895 a day of prayer was again called in similar circumstances. Three weeks later a day of thanksgiving was proclaimed to thank God for the breaking of the drought. 
During this time Christians were coming together to discuss the Federation Movement and many were desiring to see God acknowledged as the ruler of the nations and so it was acknowledged in the preamble to our Constitution "...humbly relying on the blessing of Almighty God..." 

(Even the Sydney Morning Herald's Editorial dated 14th April, 1897 stated "no Christian could in conscience vote for a Federation Bill that did not recognise God"!)

Churches also campaigned: "that there also be embodied in the said Constitution, or in the Standing Orders of the Federal Parliament, a provision that each daily session of the Upper and Lower Houses of the Federal Parliament be opened with a prayer by the President and Speaker or by a Chaplain" . They also asked for the Governor-General to be empowered to proclaim National Days of Thanksgiving & Repentance. Over a hundred years later in 2004, the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery, has fulfilled the desire of many Christians in Australia in the 1890's, and indeed this new millennium, and launched a National Day of Thanksgiving to be held this year, for the first time on the 29 May 2004.
The first Sunday in the 20th Century was proclaimed Commonwealth Sunday and Christians were called to pray for the Nation. 

During the 1940's as the second World War began to take its horrific toll and Australia was being threatened, particularly after the bombing of Darwin, several days of prayer were held. One of these was called by King George VI throughout the Commonwealth. 

Within another fifty years we have arrived at Australia's Bicentenary of European settlement and another National Day of Prayer has taken place. 

It will be of interest to see the outcome of the National Gathering (held in 1988).There were numerous National Gatherings in the Old Testament which had ramifications for many years. 

For instance in 2 Chronicles 34 the nation followed God for a generation. In Nehemiah 8 when they gathered in the capital their repentance led to national reform and restitution of godly traditions. 

Whether it was in ancient Judah or Israel or in gentile Nineveh, when the nation gathered, repented and worshipped God, great blessings always followed. 

So we can see that a gathering of a nation's people before God has deep roots and proven blessings in Biblical history. 

For example, at the dedication of the first temple under Solomon, the whole nation gathered in Jerusalem and offered sacrifices with singers leading great worship to the Lord  (I Samuel 7:4-10).  
The result was God's glory coming down on the temple. 

We know that God will hear our land if His people humble themselves, seek his face and turn from their wicked ways (2nd Chronicles 7:14). 

In the time of Asa, the nation assembled in the capital, offered sacrifices, covenanted to seek and follow God and worshipped joyfully, with the result that God gave them rest on every side (2nd Chronicles 15:8-15). 

In the days of Jehoshaphat, they gathered, fasted, prayed, the prophetic word came, they fell down and worshipped, stood up and praised the Lord, so that they saw victory in battle and rest on all sides (2nd Chronicles 20:1-19). 

When Hezekiah was king, he called the people to the capital, though some of them mocked, some came. They prayed, offered sacrifices, rejoiced and worshipped to see God answer their prayer and national reforms (2nd Chronicles 30:1-27). 

During the reign of Josiah, the nation gathered and God's word was read out and the people covenanted to follow God so that the nation followed God for a generation (1st Chronicles 34). 

In the book of Ezra we read (Ezra 10:1-17) that the nation gathered in the rain and the leaders prayed and wept and prostrated themselves before God due to the nation's unfaithfulness with the result that behaviour changed throughout the land. 

Again, in the days of Nehemiah, the nation gathered in the capital and fasted in sackcloth and ashes, confessed their sins and their fathers' sins and had God's word read aloud for three hours, then confessed and worshipped God for three hours. The result was that the nation covenanted to follow the Lord. 

But this national humbling followed by the great blessing of God was not confined to just ancient Israel and Judah! 

We know from the book of Jonah that the gentile city of Ninevah was saved from the severity of national judgement when the Ninevites responded to Jonah's call, fasting in sackcloth and ashes, believing in the true God and calling earnestly on him and turning from their old ways.



No. 612              WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER.                          1895 


NEW SOUTH WALES,    )      Proclamation by His Excellency The Honorable 
       to wit.                 )      Sir FREDERICK MATTHEW 

        (L.S.)                          DARLEY, Knight, Lieutenant-Governor of the 
FREDK. M. DARLEY,              Colony of New South Wales and its                        Lieutenant-Governor.         Dependencies. 

WHEREAS in consideration of the very serious calamaties from which the Colony is now suffering, by reason of the protracted Drought, it is proper that a day should be set apart on which all persons may unite in Humiliation and Prayer to Almighty God to obtain, through His Divine Mercy, a mitigation or removal of these calamities: And whereas it is right and expedient that an opportunity should be given to the Clergy and Ministers of Religion of all Denominations, and all others, Her Majesty's subjects in the Colony of New South Wales, to observe such a day of Humiliation and Prayer: Now, therefore, I, the Lieutenant-Governor of New South Wales, with the advice of the Executive Council, do hereby direct that Sunday, the fifteenth day of September instant, be appointed for the purpose of aforesaid, and express the earnest hope that all classes of the community will join with reverence and humility in this solemn appeal to the Divine Mercy. 

Given under my Hand and Seal, at Government House, Sydney, this eleventh day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five, and in the fifty-ninth year of Her Majesty's Reign. 

                                                          By His Excellency's Command, 
                                                          JAMES N. BRUNKER 

                               GOD SAVE THE QUEEN! 

SYDNEY: Printed and Published by Charles Potter, Government Printer, Phillip-street, 11th September, 1895.





Published by Authority.
No. 662}                    Wednesday, 2 October,                               {1895
New South Wales, to wit (l.s.) Fredk. M. Darley Lieutenant-Governor.
  Proclamation by His Excellency The Honorable Sir Frederick Matthew        Darley, Knight, Lieutenant-General of the Colony of New South Wales and its dependencies.
Whereas  it is deemed fitting that the inhabitants of New South Wales should testify their thank-fulness to Almighty God for his great mercy in sending the welcome rain with which the Colony has recently been blest: Now, therefore, I, Sir Frederick Matthew Darley, as such Lieutenant-Governor as aforesaid, do, with the advice of the Executive Council, hereby appoint Sunday, the sixth day of October instant, to be observed as a Special Day of Prayer and Public Thanksgiving throughout New South Wales; and I further invite the Clergy and Ministers of Religion of all Denominations, and all other Her Majesty's subjects in the Colony of New South Wales, to observe the day appointed as one of special Thanksgiving to Almighty God for His  great Mercy in delivering the Colony from the suffering and loss attending a long continued drought.
Given under my Hand and Seal, at Government House, Sydney, this second day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and ninety-five, and in the fifty-ninth year of Her Majesty's Reign.
By His Excellency's Command,
James N. Brunker.
God Save the Queen!

Printed and published by Charles Potter, Government printer, Phillip-street, 2nd October, 1895.