Consider the faith of those who founded our country..
The First Official Prayer
(Taken from Draw the Circle, The 40 Day Prayer Challenge , by Mark Batterson (indented selections are pulled from pages 89-93)
On September 7, 1774, the Continental Congress held its first official meeting at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia. Their first official act was prayer.
Did you get that? Did it sink in? The first act of our newly formed government was to pray. Here is part of what that prayer included:
O Lord, our heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all dwellers on the earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the kingdoms, Empires, and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American states who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee…
“Desiring to be henceforth dependent on only Thee..” In other words, they knew that their only hope was in God and God alone. They had cut themselves off from the mother country, and were facing a huge army to descend upon them. The new group of states had no regulated army, in fact they had NO army at all. What they did have was FAITH IN GOD.
If you know the story of the young shepherd boy, David, you will know that the enemy of the Israelites had camped out on one hill and the Israelites on the other. The enemy had a huge soldier, who stood way over all the others. They taunted the Israelites and dared them to send someone to fight him. Whoever lost would become subjects of the other. None of the Israelites dared to go up against him, until young and small David said he would.
David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I’ll strike you down and cut off your head. This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:45-47)
The whole world came to know God a bit better that day, all because one young boy had faith. He killed the giant with one rock and a slingshot. Amazing what God can do with a faithful heart.
It is this same heart of faith that founded our country. It is men with this kind of faith that faced the huge and well-trained military of England. It is the same heart of faith that was with our country’s founders as they wrote the Constitution at the conclusion of a war filled with the providence of God.
“There are numerous moments, but I’ll choose the answered prayers attested to by Founding Father Benjamin Franklin. About five weeks into the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when they were attempting to draft the U. S. Constitution, their efforts were a signal failure. As things were beginning to break up and delegates return home to their states, Franklin challenged them and called them to prayer.
“He told them:In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illuminate our understanding?
“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. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor. . . .”
Read his next words carefully. Could they not be spoken to us today?
“And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine 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. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured, sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel. . . . I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business.”
(Max Farrand, The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1911), Vol. I, pp. 450-452, from James Madison’s Notes on the Convention for June 28, 1787. As noted on http://www.cfaith.com/index.php/blog/34-articles/independence-day/15500-founding-fathers-on-prayer)
He had faith. David had faith. And the Continental Congress put their trust in God to carry their followers through difficulty. Read below the close of their prayer. This was prayed at the very beginnings of a gathering of states, before the war yet to be fought for our independence from England, the Continental Congress.
“Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly…Shower down on them and the millions they represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seeist expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, They Son and our Savior. Amen”
Never let people misrepresent the founding of our country. The very Constitution that has guided us for over 200 years was successfully completed only after God was invited into the deliberation and writing.
I take us back to the very first prayer prayed in the new gathering of the colonies as one unit. I take us back to Franklin’s call to prayer, “And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?” Have we forgotten? Oh yes, we have. Have we pushed God out of the United States of America? Oh yes, we have. Have we told God, “go away, we don’t need you anymore?” Oh yes we have. And look at the mess we have made of it.
I take us back to the very first prayer prayed in the new gathering of the colonies as one unit. “O Lord, our heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all dwellers on the earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the kingdoms, Empires, and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech thee, on these our American state…”
It is not too late to get down on your knees and ask God to forgive us and invite Him back into our lives and the lives of our country. Won’t you do so today, now? God will hear your prayer. He has promised.
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)