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
AUSTRALIA'S JUBILEE AND DAYS OF PRAYER
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
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
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
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.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE NEW SOUTH WALES GOVERNMENT GAZETTE
PUBLISHED BY AUTHORITY
No. 612 WEDNESDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER. 1895
DAY OF HUMILIATION AND PRAYER
NEW SOUTH WALES, ) Proclamation by His Excellency The Honorable
to wit. ) Sir FREDERICK MATTHEW
(L.S.) DARLEY, Knight, Lieutenant-Governor of
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
JAMES N. BRUNKER
GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!
SYDNEY: Printed and Published by Charles Potter, Government Printer,
Phillip-street, 11th September, 1895.
NEW SOUTH WALES
Published by Authority.
No. 662} Wednesday, 2 October,
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
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.