When the Continental Congress first met on September 6, 1774, their first official act was to call for prayer. In spite of their denominational differences, all agreed and on September 7, 1774, day two of the Congress was opened with prayer by Episcopal minister “Rev. Mr. Duché.” He read several prayers, the 35th Psalm, and then launched into an “extemporaneous” prayer. Said prayer was offered “in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.”
John Adams, in a letter to his wife, said of this event: I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seems as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning. After this, Mr. Duché, unexpectedly to every body, struck out into an extemporary prayer, which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced. (quoted from America’s God and Country Encyclopedia of Quotations by William J. Federer)
This is but one example of a repeated pattern in the history of this nation’s founding. Prayer (most often in Christ’s name) was a foundation of every major gathering of our nation’s leaders as they sought Divine guidance for nearly every move.
My how far we’ve come. In just a couple weeks, Missourians will go to the polls in large part to narrow the field for November’s elections. But on the ballot will also be Amendment 2. You’re welcome to follow the link and read the full text, but in essence this amendment is simply that it will ensure the rights of Missouri citizens to pray in public. It seeks to protect student’s rights to pray on school grounds, to allow citizens to gather peaceably on government property to pray, and even allow for elected officials to begin public proceedings with prayer.
Isn’t it sad that we have to have an amendment to the state constitution to protect those rights? Given the central role prayer played in our early national life, and yet we now have to pass special legislation that would allow us to do the very same things our founders did naturally.
What’s even sadder is that most of the threat today is against Christian prayer in particular. It’s well documented how traffic in New York is often brought to a halt by Muslim cab drivers stopping for prayer at their appointed times; in public. And many of those folks are actually praying against our nation! But that’s OK. However, Christians better not be seen standing around a flag pole somewhere praying for our nation’s health and well being. For shame!
Yet, here we are, folks. And so good, God fearing people must again step up and stand firm. Much of the reason our nation has come this far is because too often Christians have sat quietly by and watched our nation’s heritage be hijacked. It’s time to change that.
Hear me carefully. I’m not one of those radical folks who thinks America is the new Promised Land. It’s not. As far as I can see, America is never mentioned in Scripture. Our primary allegiance is to our true King, Christ Jesus. Our highest aim is to forward His Kingdom through the preaching of the Gospel and seeing men, women and children come to a saving knowledge of Him.
Yet, we are also commanded in God’s Word to be good citizens. And in this nation, that means to be involved in the process, to make our voice heard. Furthermore, I do recognize (as did our founders) the extreme blessings God has poured out on this nation. In sheer gratitude, it’s incumbent upon us to stand up for the freedoms those blessings have afforded us.
So, Missouri brothers, you’re not being asked to take up arms and fight for your freedom from the oppressive regime across the sea. But you are being asked to take up your right to vote and fight against those who would make this nation even more oppressive than that of King George.