This moving call to prayer from Benjamin Franklin might also be helpful in America's current time of economic suffering and unending wars. Franklin continued: "And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? 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 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, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service."
Prayer became an important custom that is practice in public venues still today. But prayer is under assault like never before in our history. U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb, in a twisted ruling, recently declared that the government proclaiming a National Day of Prayer violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment. This judicial activist is attempting to reinterpret the Constitution and rewrite nearly 250 years of American history.
The First Amendment to the Constitution states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..." For most of our nation's history, this clause was understood to prohibit the official establishment of a specific church. At the time of the ratification of the Constitution many of the colonies had official religions. The First Amendment precluded the federal government from interfering with that relationship or establishing an official church at the national level.
The founders were certainly not intent on establishing a secular government, as modern day leftists would have you believe. The Declaration of Independence states that governments exist to protect rights "endowed by our Creator." The same Congress that ratified the Constitution supported President Washington in his 1789 Thanksgiving proclamation that stated, "It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor."
That very same year Congress also ratified the Northwest Ordinance. Article 3 of the Northwest Ordinance reads, "Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." The first Congress was interested in encouraging education because it promoted knowledge, morality and religion. Activist judges seeking to rewrite our history would have us believe that the Constitution prohibits the government from promoting both morality and religion. This ruling would have shocked the men who wrote the Constitution.
President Abraham Lincoln issued the following proclamation of a national day of prayer: "It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness. Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, I do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer."
In 1952 Congress passed and Harry Truman codified a national day of prayer and fasting that has been recognized annually to this day.
While secularists reject prayer as a cornerstone of our great nation, we urge Christians everywhere to stand and intercede. "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other," John Adams wisely noted. As America has ignored God she has lost her way. If there was ever a time when we as Americans needed to stand and repent for our sins and turn to the Almighty, this is it.
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