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May God Bless America
By Linda Ryzenga

November 25, 2004, will be a special day in the United States. It is a special holiday, named Thanksgiving. How did this holiday originate? Well, I just happened to acquire some information while searching an old Funk and Wagnall’s Encyclopedia. Am I revealing my age? Maybe.

Although I haven't used these books in years, I thought it would be interesting to do some research and here is what I found.

Thanksgiving, the name of our national holiday, originated in New England. After the first harvest in 1621, New England colonist, Governor Bradford, made provisions for a day of thanksgiving and prayer. While fasting and prayer in the midst of drought in 1623, the day was changed into a day of thanksgiving by the coming of rain.

Gradually, an annual custom evolved of appointing a day of thanksgiving after the harvest. These appointments were by proclamation of the governors of several New England colonies. During the Revolutionary War, Congress recommended a yearly day of national Thanksgiving.

New York adopted Thanksgiving as an annual custom in 1817, and it spread through many of the States by the middle of the 19th Century. President Lincoln appointed a day of thanksgiving in 1864, and since then, the Presidents have issued a Thanksgiving proclamation, which generally designates the last Thursday of November to be set aside for celebration.

In 1623 the people prayed for rain, and God sent rain.

What will people pray for on this Thanksgiving, 2004?

Will we pray for our newly elected President? That God will bestow on him the wisdom and strength needed to lead our country?

Will we pray for freedom? God has blessed us tremendously with the gift of freedom. Our soldiers in Iraq, and all over the world, are certainly fighting for our freedom, and they need prayer to cover them as our country remains engaged in war.

This is a different kind of war; one we have never seen or fought before. The enemy is not stationed in one specific area; rather he conceals himself in all parts of the world. Americans are facing a perilous time. Asking God to safeguard our country and countrymen is very crucial.

My family will also be praying for the blessing of forgiveness on our country.

Sin is rampant in the United States. At the top of the list are child abuse, drugs, murder and abortion, just to name a few. People refuse to turn to God, not even believing that He exists in many cases. The devil steps in at times such as these, and he takes over. He is very deceitful and cunning. People's lives and countries, are often destroyed by his cleverness.

2 Chronicles 7:14 says, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land." (NIV)

I believe it is imperative to turn to God in prayer this Thanksgiving Day, as the people did in 1623. God answered prayers then, and He will do the same today – if we pray. My family will be asking the Lord to lead our nation, and to grant our President good judgment, courage and strength. Please join with us in our prayers.

Through fervent prayer and thanksgiving, God will truly Bless America.
Linda Ryzenga and her husband live part of the year in Holland, Michigan and the other in Florida. Together they have 7 daughters and 16 grandchildren. For 15 years, Linda has been a passionate volunteer for Hospice. Another of her passions is writing.
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