In this contemporary world it is easy to dismiss as old-fashioned the idea that prayer has a role in our public sphere. Indeed the U.S. Supreme Court is even taking up a case by those opposed to prayer at government meetings. But irrespective of modernity, national prayer has always played a critical role in shaping our great nation. Prayer binds man to one another, and it shows that even with great power entrusted to them our leaders have called upon the Almighty in times of need and of thanksgiving. In fact, the first national call to prayer in America was called for by the Second Continental Congress on July 20, 1775.
Perhaps Benjamin Franklin said it best when he called upon the disagreeable and volatile Constitutional Convention to nominate a chaplain who would begin their sessions with prayer saying:
“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.”
Since that time there have been over 130 national calls to prayer by the President of the United States, from the likes of Washington, to Lincoln, Roosevelt to Kennedy, and Reagan to Obama. Our nation’s leaders have recognized the vital role prayer plays in uniting, healing, and restoring our land. Prayer was fundamental to uniting our founding fathers; it was crucial to healing the deep scars of the civil war; it was essential to overcoming the darkest days of the depression; it was principal in overcoming the tyranny of totalitarianism and terrorism; and it is central today to facing the great challenges confronting our Nation.
Congress also has recognized the need for national prayer. In 1952 and again in 1988, Congress approved laws to set aside and proclaim a National Day of Prayer on which the people of the United States may turn to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups, and as individuals.
National prayer plays an immeasurable role in recognizing and exercising our inalienable rights of liberty of conscience and freedom of speech. It solidifies in Americans that our nation is in fact built upon a firm foundation of faith that must not be torn down. It respects the faith and religious liberty that are trademarks of America. And, most importantly, national prayer to our Savior is the most important task we can do to help save our nation.
Please join me in prayer on the National Day of Prayer today– and every day thereafter – for healing of our beloved country.
Congressman Tim Huelskamp’s Washington, D.C. office can be reached at (202) 225-5124