King Solomon’s call for moral and spiritual integrity by citizens for the benefit of their nation may seem out of date but his principle of practicing patriotism by doing right needs to be stressed and heeded: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
The history of both the United States and Canada prove the importance of spiritual awakenings to turn the tide of moral and spiritual decay and usher in good times.
In 1727, twenty four year old Jonathan Edwards, a recent graduate of Yale was called to assist his grandfather, the pastor of the Congregational Church of Northampton, Massachusetts. Two years after his move to Northampton, his grandfather died and young Edwards became the pastor of one of the largest, wealthiest, and most cultured churches in New England.
It isn’t likely this congregation expected their young pastor to be the key personality in what historians call America’s first great awakening, but that is exactly what happened. Jonathan Edwards and others prayed earnestly for a great moral and spiritual change in their community and in 1735 their prayers were answered.
Edwards wrote that scarcely a person in the town, old or young, was left unchanged.
This awakening spread from town to town and from county to county. By 1740, the moral tone of New England was lifted and an estimated 50,000 people had been added to the churches.
In his book, “The Narrative,” James A. Stewart made a significant observation about this great spiritual awakening, writing that it was not the outcome of a highly organized effort but the answer to the prayers of a faithful pastor and his church.
The next and perhaps the greatest spiritual awakening affecting the United States and Canada took place in 1858. There were three important ingredients in its development: The Dutch Reformed Church appointed Jeremiah Lanphier, a businessman to do missionary work in Lower Manhattan; a physician, Dr. Walter Palmer and his wife, Phoebe, began holding evangelist meetings in Hamilton, Ontario, and a ship loaded with gold being brought to New York from California went down in a storm, causing the closing of many banks and a financial panic.
Jeremiah Lanphier often became weary in his work among discouraged people but found he could draw strength to go on through prayer. Thinking others might be helped through prayer during those difficult times he invited others to join him and soon thousands were meeting to pray.
In his book, “The Fervent Prayer,” J. Edwin Orr wrote: “It is impossible not to connect the three events. From tiny springs of prayer in New York and preaching in Hamilton came a flood soon to envelop the world.”
During these tough times, Solomon’s call should apply to us all. The way we live affects our country so why not choose right and reject wrong? It’s another way to practice patriotism. More importantly, it’s the right thing to do!