Ours is nation built on liberty, the ideals of Western Civilization, and prayer. It is also a nation under assault by people who wish to erase prayer from the list: this much was evident in the vitriol hurled at Texas Gov. Rick Perry when he recently called his fellow governors and President Obama to join him for prayer for our nation.
The current backlash is due either to a genuine lack of knowledge concerning prayer’s place in American history or a seeming untamable desire, on the part of some, to usher in a secular state. For those who seek secularization, there’s probably not much that can be done here to change their mind, but for those whose animosity toward prayer in America is the result of a lack of historical proof, perhaps some good can be done in the next few paragraphs.
For starters, when the First Continental Congress met to decide how the colonies ought to respond to the ongoing tyranny of King George III, they opened their session with a prayer that began this way:
"O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on 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."
During the middle of the following year, and just three months after British forces attacked the colonies and ushered in the American Revolutionary War, “the Continental Congress declared July 20, 1775, a national day of ‘fasting & prayer.’” In none of these things did they go against the principles that would come to characterize America: rather, they epitomized them.
In 1784, three years after the United States of America had emerged victorious from the war, General George Washington sent a letter to every governor in the country to announcing the disbandment of the Continental Army. That letter contained these words:
"I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you, and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection; that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow-citizens of the United States at large."
Alan Sears, a former federal prosecutor in the Reagan Administration, is president and CEO of the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal alliance employing a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.