2nd May 2020

The Diary of Samuel Pepys

“Ask the Lord for rain in the season of the late spring rains—the Lord who causes thunderstorms—and he will give everyone showers of rain and green growth in the field.”
Zechariah 10:1 (New English Translation)

Have you heard of Samuel Pepys’ Diary? If he was alive today, I envisage him writing a blog, posting tweets to Twitter and uploading photographs of his meals to Facebook or Instagram – his pet subjects being the weather, his food, his daily schedule, and extra-marital affairs. Born in 1633, the 5th of 11 children, only three of whom were alive by the time he reached seven years of age, he lived through the English Civil War. A Cambridge-graduate and civil servant, he began his diary in 1660, not long after Oliver Cromwell’s death, following years of austerity and fears of further war.

His diary lends insight into life in London at that time. His entry on 14-16th January, 1662, reads “Mr Berchenshaw … and I went to breakfast … and after we had eaten, he asked me whether we have not committed a fault in eating today, telling me that it is a fast-day, ordered by Parliament to pray for more seasonal weather …” According to the editor, this ‘fast-day’ came from the King’s proclamation (8th January); and subsequently Parliament decreed this. For a country who had come through Cromwell’s Puritan movement, it seemed natural to accept a fast ordered by Parliament. People in the 1700’s understood the connection between God, creator of the weather, and His power to control it for our advantage.

Whilst there have been few repeat national calls to pray for the weather, King George VI requested a Day of Prayer when the Allied troops at Dunkirk had their backs to the sea and were facing imminent slaughter. Hitler’s army (Luftwaffe) was subsequently grounded by bad weather! General Patton (1944) also recognized prayer to God as the answer. Writing to the chaplain, “I want you to publish a prayer for good weather. I’m tired of these soldiers having to fight mud and floods as well as Germans. See if we can’t get God to work on our side.” He called upon the whole army to pray to God to “restrain these immoderate rains” and “grant us fair weather for battle”. And then there’s Elijah who also petitioned God about the weather (James 5:17-18).

These historical examples show us nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37) – not even controlling the weather (Matthew 8:26-27, Psalm 148:8). Today’s culture is very far removed from prayer and fasting as avenues of help. With the coronavirus pandemic we currently face, perhaps it’s time to revisit these spiritual disciplines.

Prayer
Lord God, help us to pray and fast regularly that we may focus completely on you and your plan for humanity.
Amen

Study by Irene Tibbenham
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*Note that due to the coronavirus lockdown, Services are suspended for the time being. Contact is still as below. For live-streaming Sermons and Bible Studies go to our UK website www.gracecom.church

About the Author:
Irene Tibbenham is a Deaconess and serves on the Pastoral Council in the Norwich Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
GCI Norwich
New Hope Christian Centre
Martineau Lane
NORWICH
NR1 2HX

Meeting Time:
Saturday 10:30am

Local Congregational Contact:
Tony Goudie
Phone: 01508 498165
Mobile: 07931 580409
Email: tony_goudie@wcg.org.uk
norwich@gracecom.church