As we prepare to celebrate Americas 238th Birthday, let us not forget that it was the prayers of the faithful, their courage, their belief and trust in Almighty God that brought forth and established this great nation. And that it would also be the power of prayer, courage and trust in God that would continue to sustain and bless America, as she faced daunting challenges in the future, grew and prospered.
Our Founding Fathers realized this and the importance of invoking Gods help in order to have a more perfect Union.
George Washington, Father of our Country, understood the significance of the role of Deity and the power of prayer in establishing and governing this nation when he wrote, “It is impossible to rightly govern . . . without God ” (George Washington, Federer, p.660).
He also knew that he personally needed Gods help to become the man and leader he wanted and needed to be.
He recorded the following in his prayer journal:
O eternal and everlasting God, I presume to present myself this morning before thy Divine majesty, beseeching thee to accept of my humble and hearty thanks, that it hath pleased thy great goodness to keep and preserve me the night past from all the dangers poor mortals are subject to, and has given me sweet and pleasant sleep, whereby I find my body refreshed and comforted for performing the duties of this day, in which I beseech thee to defend me from all perils of body and soul….
Increase my faith in the sweet promises of the gospel; give me repentance from dead works; pardon my wanderings, and direct my thoughts unto thyself, the God of my salvation; teach me how to live in thy fear, labor in thy service, and ever to run in the ways of thy commandments; make me always watchful over my heart, that neither the terrors of conscience, the loathing of holy duties, the love of sin, nor an unwillingness to depart this life, may cast me into a spiritual slumber, but daily frame me more and more into the likeness of thy son Jesus Christ, that living in thy fear, and dying in thy favor, I may in thy appointed time attain the resurrection of the just unto eternal life bless my family, friends, and kindred (An undated prayer from Washington’s prayer journal, Mount Vernon).
Benjamin Franklin, in his Constitutional Convention Address on Prayer, June 28, 1787, stated:
Mr. President in the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings And have we now forgotten that powerful friend, or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance?
I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth that GOD governs in the affairs of men I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers be uttered imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations
Thomas Jefferson, in A Prayer for the Nation, made the following heavenly plea:
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; We humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people, mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen (Washington D.C., March 4, 1801).
It is this nations faith in God and fervent prayers that have sustained America in troubled times.
President Abraham Lincoln A Prayer for Peace
Oh Lord God Almighty Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and for his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations (Second Inaugural address, March 4, 1865).
President Franklin D. Roosevelt A Prayer in Dark Times
Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity…
Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph…
And for us at home–fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them–help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice… Give us strength, too–strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.
With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy.
Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace–a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil (D-Day, June 6, 1944).
Now More Than Ever
Now more than ever, it is faith in God and fervent prayer, beseeching the help of the Almighty, that is needed to preserve this great land, and to sustain the correct and righteous principles upon which America was founded.
President Ronald Reagan, in a speech to the American people entitled A Prayer for Healing, February 6, 1986, states the following:
To preserve our blessed land we must look to God… It is time to realize that we need God more than He needs us… We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that “If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
Let us, young and old, join together, as did the First Continental Congress, in the first step, in humble heartfelt prayer. Let us do so for the love of God and His great goodness, in search of His guidance and the grace of repentance, in seeking His blessings, His peace, and the resting of His kind and holy hands on ourselves, our nation, our friends in the defense of freedom, and all mankind, now and always.
The time has come to turn to God and reassert our trust in Him for the healing of America.
In many ways America is in just as turbulent and discouraging a situation today, as she was in those desperate days at Valley Forge. She has been severely wounded and weakened from losing too many critical battles, and whether or not she will survive, and be able to carry on, is yet to be seen.
But what pulled her from the jaws of defeat and despair then, lifted her, renewed her and strengthened her, is what is needed to pull her from the depths of despair today; strong and righteous leadership, fervent prayers uttered on her behalf, and hope and trust in God that He will hear and answer those prayers!
So this Independence Day, as we dust off our picnic baskets and plan our family celebrations, let us all take a minute to reflect on the words of President George W. Bush:
I ask you to bow your heads.
Heavenly Father, we bow our heads and thank You for Your love. Accept our thanks for the peace that yields this day and the shared faith that makes its continuance likely. Make us strong to do Your work, willing to heed and hear Your will, and write on our hearts these words: Use power to help people.
For we are given power not to advance our own purposes nor to make a great show in the world, nor a name. There is but one just use of power, and it is to serve people. Help us to remember it, Lord.
May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us; so that He may incline our hearts to Him, to walk in all His ways… that all peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other. (Inaugural address, January 20, 1989)
Happy 4th of July everyone, and may God Bless America!