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The True Story of the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving

Derek Prince, IFA Founder : Nov 23, 2022  Intercessors For America

"What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace? May not the children of these fathers rightly say: 'Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity.'" [This is Bradford's own paraphrase of Deuteronomy 26:5,7.] "Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good; and His mercies endure forever..." -William Bradford

[IFAPray.org] Father, we thank You for the faith of the pilgrims that built this nation. We pray that You would help us to emulate their faith today, Lord. (Screengrab image: Plymouth Plantation)

IFA Founder Derek Prince explains the true story of the Pilgrims, the first Thanksgiving, and the importance of fasting–all of which can speak to us today: (Below are excerpts from this article, Click Here to read it in full)

Having been educated in Britain, I do not recall ever having learned anything at school about the Pilgrims. The phrase, "Pilgrim Fathers," commonly used by Americans, had created in my mind a vague impression of severe old men with long white beards, probably attired in dark formal clothing like that associated with ministers of religion. I was surprised to discover that the majority of the Pilgrims at the time of their arrival in America were still young men and women. For example, William Bradford was thirty-one years old in 1621, when he was first appointed governor of the colony. Most of the other Pilgrims were of about the same age or younger. As portrayed in wax in the historical tableau on board the replica of the Mayflower in Plymouth harbor, Bradford and his companions reminded me not a little of the Jesus People who emerged on this continent in the 1960's...

The difference between Puritans and Pilgrims could be expressed in the two words reformation and restoration. The Puritans sought to reform the Church as it existed in their day. The Pilgrims believed that the ultimate purpose of God was to restore the Church to its original condition, as portrayed in the New Testament. This shines forth very clearly in the first paragraph of the first chapter of Bradford's book, where he expresses the Pilgrims' vision of restoration in the following words: "the churches of God revert to their ancient purity and recover their primitive [i.e. original] order, liberty, and beauty."

Later in this chapter, Bradford returns to this theme when he declares the Pilgrims' purpose: "[They labored] to have the right worship of God and discipline of Christ established in the church, according to the simplicity of the Gospel, without the mixture of men's inventions; and to have and be ruled by the laws of God's Word, dispensed in those offices, and by those officers of Pastors, Teachers, and Elders, etc.; according to the Scriptures."

With this purpose in view, the original Believers in Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, and Yorkshire: "joined themselves [by a covenant] into a church estate, in the fellowship of the Gospel, to walk in all His ways made known, or to be made known unto them, according to their best endeavors, whatsoever it should cost them, the Lord assisting them."

Later when the congregation moved to Leyden, in Holland, Bradford described their way of life there: "they came as near the primitive [original] pattern of the first churches as any other church[es] of these later times have done."

Again in his fourth chapter, Bradford describes the main motive of the Pilgrims in undertaking their journey to America: "Lastly [and which was not least], a great hope and inward zeal they had of laying some good foundation" for the propagating and advancing of the Gospel of the kingdom of Christ in those remote parts of the world; yea, though they should be even as stepping stones unto others for the performing of so great a work." (Image: Pexels-The Mayflower II)

John Robinson' message on this occasion sums up the essence of the Pilgrims' theological position. This is indicated by their very choice of the name Pilgrims. They did not claim to have arrived at a final understanding of all truth. They were on a pilgrimage, looking for the further revelation of truth that lay ahead as they walked in obedience to truth already received.

Bradford himself believed firmly that he and his companions were in the same line of spiritual pilgrimage as the saints of the Old and New Testaments, and he habitually resorted to the language of the Bible to express his feelings and reactions. He describes the arrival of the Mayflower at Cape Cod, and the many dangers and hardships which the Pilgrims encountered. He concludes the chapter with this:

"What could now sustain them but the Spirit of God and His grace? May not the children of these fathers rightly say: 'Our fathers were Englishmen which came over this great ocean, and were ready to perish in this wilderness; but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity.'" [This is Bradford's own paraphrase of Deuteronomy 26:5,7.]

"Let them therefore praise the Lord, because He is good; and His mercies endure forever. Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord, shew how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor. When they wandered in the desert wilderness out of the way, and found no city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty, their soul was overwhelmed in them. Let them confess before the Lord His lovingkindness and His wonderful works before the sons of men." [This is Bradford's version of Psalm 107:1-5,8.]

It is not possible to quote the many instances of answered prayer that Bradford records, but there is one further instance of a public fast that must be mentioned. In the summer of 1623, the corn crop which the Pilgrims had so carefully planted was threatened: "by a great drought which continued from the third week in May, till about the middle of July, without any rain and with great heat for the most part, in so much as the corn began to wither away"it began to languish sore, and some of the drier grounds were parched like withered hay"Upon which they set apart a solemn day of humiliation [fasting] to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer"And He was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer, both to their own and the Indians' admiration [i.e. amazement]"For all the morning, and greatest part of the day, it was clear weather and very hot, and not a cloud or any sign of rain to be seen; yet toward evening it began to overcast, and shortly after to rain with such sweet and gentle showers as gave them cause of rejoicing and blessing God"

Normally, if rain had fallen at all in such conditions, it would have been in the form of a thunderstorm, which would have beaten down the corn and destroyed the last hope of a harvest. But on this occasion, Bradford goes on to relate:

"It came without either wind or thunder or any violence, and by degrees in that abundance as that the earth was thoroughly"soaked therewith. Which did so apparently revive and quicken the decayed corn and other fruits; as was wonderful to see, and made the Indians astonished to behold. And afterwards the Lord sent them such seasonable showers, with interchange of fair warm weather as, through His blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest"For which mercy, in time convenient, they also set apart a day of thanksgiving."

This practice of setting aside special days of prayer and fasting became an accepted part of the life of Plymouth Colony. On November 15, 1636, a law was passed allowing the governor, and his assistants "to command solemn days of humiliation by fasting, etc. and also for thanksgiving as occasion shall be offered."

History has demonstrated that the results of fasting promised in this verse were achieved by the Pilgrims. Both spiritually and politically, they "raised up the foundations of many generations." More than three-and-a-half centuries later, the people of the United States are still building on the foundations which the Pilgrims laid... Subscribe for free to Breaking Christian News here

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