A Nation’s History of Prayer

congress first prayerNATHANAEL BENNETT, ACLJ

Today, May 1, 2014, is the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer.  However, our nation’s dependence on prayer reaches all the way back to our founding.  Our first President, George Washington, officially called the nation to prayer and Thanksgiving in 1789, and even before that, our first Congress opened its 1774 session with prayer, and returned repeatedly to prayer during its deliberations.

While it has become commonplace for some to mock any official occurrence of prayer, it is simply a matter of historical fact that our nation has recognized the power of prayer from our earliest days.  We at the ACLJ have made it a bedrock principle of ours to defend this heritage of prayer, as well as the rights of those who choose to continue exercising their right to pray.

This week, there are several efforts underway on Capitol Hill to observe the National Day of Prayer.  First, the bipartisan co-chairs on the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Randy Forbes (VA) and Mike McIntyre (NC), have introduced H.Res. 547 to officially recognize the National Day of Prayer.

Next, several Members of Congress have taken to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives to commemorate the National Day of Prayer, as well as the power of prayer in their lives.  These include Rep. Mike McIntyre, Rep. James Lankford and Rep. Doug LaMalfa.

As Congressmen Forbes and McIntyre articulated in a recent op-ed:

Prayer is not a tonic that will make all leaders see eye to eye, but it is an act of faith that has unified us as a nation since our inception. Corporate prayer can unify us despite our disagreements by reminding us that, while we may disagree about what paths or policies will best continue to support and secure our freedoms, we must recognize where we have shared motivations to preserve that freedom. Despite our disagreements, we can be one voice, united in prayer as we strive to overcome the challenges that lie before us.

So as you commemorate the National Day of Prayer today with your family, all of us at the ACLJ encourage you to thank God for the many blessings He has bestowed on our great nation.  Pray also that our leaders would continually be reminded to come together in pursuit of Divine guidance and that God would continue to grant us mercy and blessings.

Nathanael Bennett is the Director of Government Affairs for the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), as well as the Main Representative to the United Nations in New York, NY for the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ). He also assists the ECLJ in its work before the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. In his current capacity, Bennett represents the ACLJ in matters involving Congress and the Executive Branch.

Used with the permission of the American Center for Law and Justice.