It may be said that no other nation on the face of the Earth today has had so intertwined in its history the seeking of the Lord in prayer as does the United States of America. The writings of Gen.George Washington are replete with instances where he called upon God to intercede on behalf of the ragtag Continental Army, which faced destruction at the hand the mightiest military force on the face of the Earth. Likewise, after winning the War for Independence, our nation faced a struggle no less formidable; namely, establishing a lasting peace in this land. The sovereign state governments, leery of a strong central government after being subjected to the abuses of King George, drafted the Articles of Confederation as the nation's governing document. Sadly, the Articles were too weak to govern the nation, and strife and dissension was manifest throughout the states as one was pitted against another in a struggle for power and dominance.
Seeing the nation in danger of being torn asunder in its infancy, a convention was called to amend the Articles of Confederation. However, it soon became evident that the Articles of Confederation were simply inadequate, and our Founding Fathers launched a Constitutional Convention behind closed doors. Days and weeks passed without the convention coming any closer to a harmonious resolution to the issues plaguing them. Once again, it seemed that all would be lost and the bonds between the once united states would be dissolved, and the nation would fall into squabbling factions to be easily picked off one by one at the hands of the great world powers.
It was at this time that the "grandfather" of the convention, the esteemed statesman Benjamin Franklin, a man greatly respected by all, stood and addressed the members. Standing in the convention hall on that sweltering summer day, his body worn by the toll of many years of sacrifice and service for his beloved America, all heads turned to hear the words proffered.
Said he, "In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when 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 understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. 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. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. 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. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the Ground without His notice, is it probable that an Empire can rise without his Aid? We've been assured in the sacred writings that unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who 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."
Following his remarks, a solemn, humbled spirit settled upon the members of that convention, and from then on prayers to the Almighty began each daily session, and a new spirit of trust and cooperation infused their hearts. With that, compromises were made, inspiration was received, and the work of the drafting of the Constitution was completed, bringing to the American people the greatest governing document ever drafted by the hands of man; great only because the men who drafted it humbled themselves and sought their Lord in prayer.
Throughout the following decades and centuries, America's leaders would call upon the Lord in prayer. President Abraham Lincoln, leading this nation during the War Between the States, a time which once again saw the threat that our nation would be torn apart, issued a proclamation calling for a national day of fasting and prayer. Recognizing the need for the hand of Divine Providence to heal our land and bring the cessation of the shedding of blood, his proclamation exhorted his countrymen to remember God and humble themselves before him. He reminded the American people that "We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us! It behooves us then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."
Similar calls for prayer during times of national suffering would be issued by President Roosevelt during WWII, and General Dwight Eisenhower, later to become president, prayed for divine intercession on behalf of his soldiers as they prepared to embarked on one of the most daring and dangerous invasions of the war. President Ronald Reagan also prayed for guidance as we fought the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. And so it was that President Harry Truman, following in the footsteps of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln and others, established a National Day of Prayer in 1952, codifying into law a long-held tradition of the American people of seeking their Lord in humble prayer, begging his mercy and guidance, and seeking His blessings upon our land.
This Thursday, May 3rd, we once again celebrate our National Day of Prayer, a day of humility and reverence for that God from whom all blessings flow. Today we face problems of enormous importance, and we are once again divided as a nation on matters of policy and principle. Each side accuses the other of malice and ill-will, and each side distrusts the other. We daily witness the bloodshed of our people, overseas as they fight our enemies, our children killed in the womb and in the streets by drugs and violent crime. Our children are having children, and our families are being broken apart. Many have seen their life savings eradicated by theft, some illegal, some under the patina of the law. There is so much unnecessary suffering.
So let us this day, and every day hereafter, remember the words of the psalmist, who exhorted us to see that "Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." (Psalm 127:1) May we seek our Lord in humility and prayer such that our nation is healed of the factions and divisiveness that has beset us, and in so doing bring us back into God's favor and worthy of his blessings.
Louis DeBroux is a Taylorsville resident, married, with eight children. He is chairman of the Bartow County Republican Party. He owns Gatekeeper data backup and recovery. He can be emailed at email@example.com.