Signs of the Times

["Churches and the Day of Prayer," in the Cape Argus, Cape Town, South Africa, July 17, 1924]

The observance of the day of humiliation and prayer on July 27 is being widely discussed in church circles, and there are differences of opinion as to how the day can be observed with profit. We give the views of representative ministers, who, while they do not speak in any official sense, express what they regard to be the right attitude to be adopted.

Rev. Ernest Titcomb.—While I regard all things that concern our life as fit subjects for prayer, recognizing the fatherhood of God, we must not expect prayers to accomplish what our own heads and hands ought to do. When, years ago, England was troubled with plague and pestilence, the people prayed a great deal. But it was pointed out that they ought to attend to their drains and adopt better methods of sanitation. And in attending to these things, they found that they were answering their own prayers. In Melbourne a few years ago the Bishop of the Anglican Church declined to join in a day of special prayer for rain during a time of drought, as he affirmed that rain had been sent, but it had been allowed to run away to waste. They had not used what had come to them. And here in South Africa there is cause for a similar complaint. We do not use the water that is given to us. We allow the vegetation of the countryside to be destroyed by veldt burning, we fail to protect our catchment areas, and, in so many cases, dams and reservoirs are not built where they would serve useful purposes. We ought to do our utmost to retain and use the gifts which come to us. So then on the Sunday our prayers will be twofold—asking in the wisdom of God that the drought may be broken, and asking for wisdom to use to the best advantage all the good things He has given to us. So far as humiliation is concerned, I do not regard the drought as punishment for national sins. Material troubles such as these are not to be regarded as the consequence of national sins. Humility and contriteness of spirit we all need, and for that we can all pray.

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November 8, 1924

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