Tuesday, June 27, 2017

America's Prayer Foundation

First Prayer at Continental Congress by Rev. Jacob Duche'
September 7, 1774
As we celebrate this Fourth of July, let us remember America was laid on a foundation of prayer. The Continental Congress, which gave us the Declaration of Independence in 1776, convened for the first time on September 7, 1774. The first legislative action taken was a motion to open this first session in prayer led by Rev. Jacob Duche'. He opened his Bible and read Psalm 35, which providentially opens with:

Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Take hold of shield and buckler and rise for my help. Draw the spear and javelin against my pursuers. Say to my soul, 'I am your salvation.' Let them be put to shame and dishonor who seek after my life. Let them be turned back and disappointed who devise evil against me."

John Adams wrote that the passage electrified the Founders. "I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on that morning." Adams further noted that, quite unexpectedly, Rev. Duche' launched into a spontaneous and unscripted prayer that began"Be Thou present, O God of Wisdom, and direct the counsel of this Honorable Assembly; enable them to settle all things on the best and surest foundation; that the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that Order, Harmony, and Peace may be effectually restored, and that Truth and Justice, Religion and Piety, prevail and flourish among the people."

Duche' went on to ask God to preserve the delegates' health and vigor of mind, and to grant them "temporal Blessings" and "everlasting Glory in the world to come. He closed with,

"All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Saviour, Amen." Adams writes that Duche's prayer "filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess, I never heard a better prayer, or one so well pronounced." 

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