Then and Now

The 1994 National Day of Prayer Show 

A short presentation for the National Day of Prayer in 1994, in those dark hours of corruption and national depair. Tweak it for today if you want to perform it. Music was drawn from various patriotic sources, but the exact choices are now lost to time. Choose your own! 

Although it is technically (C) 1994, Andrew Bartmess, performance rights are freely granted provided all Glory is given to God, and this boxed message is visible on any printed hardcopy or electronic reprint.

 

In those days, they prayed.

(Drum rift from "1776" in and stop. Music up and under.)

0h Lord, our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers of the earth, and reignest with power supreme and uncontrollable over the Kingdoms, empires and governments, look down in mercy we beseech Thee, on these American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection.

Be thou present, oh God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation, that this scene of blood may be speedily closed. ..and truth and justice, religion and piety prevail and flourish among the people.

All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Savior, Amen.

First Prayer in the Continental Congress, 1774

 

    Years later, after the war, they sat in candlelight, like this, and debated long into the night. The nation, 13 states, was loosely aligned, newly free from the harsh rule of England, and made free, they were certain, by God's own swift, sure hand. Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Jay...our "founding fathers." How to construct a new nation that did not make the errors of the old?

The longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth--that God governs in the affairs of men. ..We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings, that 'except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it.'

Benjamin Franklin, Debates in the Federal Convention, 1787

    The war had been a bitter one...hard fought, and bloody. God had brought them through it; and they would sustain liberty under His name. They worked for liberty, and prayed for it.

Statesmen may plan and speculate for liberty, but it is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand.

John Adams, 1775

    As they constructed the very articles of the Constitution, God was never far from their thoughts. Indeed, the first action of the Congress after the ratification of the Constitution was to appoint a Congressional Chaplin. They had numbered out the Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom from unreasonable search and seizure...and up front, in the first amendment...freedom of religion. Most were Christians in that statehouse, but they all knew persecution.

It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that his great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason, peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

Patrick Henry, God's Providence in American History

    The people came from many lands, seeking freedom. Many, Catholic o/r Protestant, had felt the oppressive hand of the government in their homelands; for when a Catholic ruled, the Protestants were persecuted, and when a Protestant sat on the throne, the Catholics were pursued. Thomas Jefferson saw it as a wall between the official function of the government c1nd it's faith. ..to protect the Church FROM the State.

    The popular fiction of the last thirty odd years would paint Jefferson as some kind of atheist, seeking to obliterating Christ from first the schools, then the courts, and then the nation. "What a wise man," cry the people, "to protect us from those small-minded Christians!" But the hand that penned the Declaration of Independence also wrote these lines, concerning his fears that America might drift from the Almighty...

. ..can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just1 that His justice does not sleep forever.

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781

    Jefferson knew then what we have today forgotten; that man, designed line for line úrom the hand of God, requires constant connection with Him. The Founders saw faith in God as being as natural as drawing breath. Nowhere in the their constitution does the miss-applied term "separation of Church and State" occur. ..it is drawn from a single private letter penned by Jefferson in 1802. The way it has been applied to persecute religion today would baffle the Godly men of the revolution. The leaders then knew God, as did a certain weary General. ..

Reason and experience both forbid us to expect, that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.

George Washington, Farewell Address of 1796

    The foundation laid by those wise men and women, bought by the bitter War of Independence held firm, through hard times and good, through flame and flood, through wars foreign and domestic. Christians have held fast, and been there with prayer, for ourselves, our families, and our nation. These patriots knew that prayer is our connection to God, our chance to plead for America.

    In the dark days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln unashamedly prayed that prayer Lincoln's own hand signed the National Day of Prayer into law, though it was not tied to the first Thursday in May until 1988 Lincoln saw the civil war as a divine judgment visited against America He saw direct connection between his perilous times, and the pride and sin of his nation and he demanded that the solution was prayer. In l863, when he established the National Day of Prayer, he wrote words that chill me even now, for they could have been written yesterday

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven," Lincoln wrote. "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 strengthen us; and 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 to the God that made us.

All this being done, in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope, authorized by the divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less the pardon of our national sins, and restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace."

(Muisic fades out under closing paragraph.)

    We are a praying people. What more can we offer to God, who has all, than our faith in Jesus Christ and our prayers for our nation? Tomorrow, I urge you to take the time to talk to God, and to help heal our land. He listens, and but waits for us to ask.

FINIS

 

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