National Day of Prayer, 2010

by Derrick G. Jeter

Few, if any, know the name of Elias Boudinot. We know Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and Hamilton, but Boudinot . . . no, we don’t remember reading about him in American history. It’s understandable, but unfortunate because Boudinot served as the President of the Continental Congress in the waning years of the Revolution (1782–83) and was a committed follower of Jesus Christ. As far as the founding fathers go, Boudinot was, in fact, one of the most outspoken men about the importance of religion to the health of our civil union. In a personal letter written in 1784, Boudinot passed on this advice about prayer:

Set aside some time in every day . . . if it is but five Minutes, to lift up your Heart to God in Secret. This may season your whole Time & put you on your Guard against Sin of every kind, even in the wandering of your Thoughts. Be not content to live one day, without some sensible Communion between God and your Soul. Learn the sacred art & Mystery of making Religion, or daily converse with God, an agreeable Business. It ought to be the most cheerful & delightful part of our Time. To have a God, who is Almighty, all wise, all good & merciful to go to as your constant Friend, as your continual Benefactor, as your Safeguard & Guide it should, it must sweeten every bitter Draught of Life. [1]

Boudinot’s words are worth heeding personally, but also nationally. We should pause everyday and remember to lift our country and her leaders before God’s throne of grace. Perhaps we just might taste and see that the Lord is indeed good, as He sweetens the bitter draught in our nation. So, on this day of national prayer, let’s cease our activities for five minutes and offer a petition for this great country of ours—and if you’re struggling to shape the words of a prayer, you can adopt these anytime.

✯✯✯

Great God and Father, ruler of heaven and earth,

No nation can rise without Your mighty aid and gracious blessing. America, since her founding, has been the ongoing beneficiary of blessings too numerous to recount. In times past our forefathers were mindful to express public and heartfelt praise for Your providential hand in guiding our nation through many dark and dangerous shoals, and preserving for us individual liberty. Today, out of sinful and pride-filled hearts we find ourselves adrift in waters too unfathomable and treacherous for us to safely navigate. And yet, our leaders, our courts, our schools, our businesses, and a vast number of our people have forgotten You, the great Pilot of our souls and our nation. You alone, and not we ourselves, can keep us from wrecking this great ship of state on the rocks of tyranny. Be not far off from us Lord, we beg, for we are in desperate need of Your forgiveness and blessing. Turn not a deaf ear to our petitions, but incline Your ear, we beseech, to our humble prayer.

Oh, Lord forgive—forgive the hardness of our hearts for they have grown callous and scared through the offering of millions upon millions of our unborn children to the gods of convenience and “reproductive rights.” Have mercy on us great judge of heaven for their blood surely cries out for justice. Forgive us, oh Lord, for our foolish and destructive pursuit to rid Your name from the minds and lips of our children. Remove from us the stain of wicked immorality that we have smeared across our television, movie, and computer screens. And forgive us, gracious God, for our careless and arrogant handling of the liberties and blessings You so abundantly have poured out upon the United States.

Oh, Lord protect—protect our soldiers brave as they stand a lonely post on land, on wave, and in the air. They fight, not for conquest of territory or wealth, but for righteousness—for justice, for freedom, and for peace. Their great desire is that war would be no more—that lasting peace, inviolable freedom, and true justice would rest easily upon our nation and around the globe. Until that glorious day comes, our soldiers, seamen, and airmen need Your mighty hand as a shield round about them.

Oh, Lord bless—bless the leaders of our land, federal, state, and local with wisdom and with hearts bent on justice, kindness, and humility before You. Oh Lord, bless the work of our hands and head and move us to labor with integrity and generosity that we, as good and faithful stewards of the resources and talents You so freely bestow, might honor You. Merciful Father, bless our schools with administrators and teachers committed to communicating truth, who strive in the hard task of teaching children to think so they might be wise citizens of this great country. Gracious God, bless our churches with courageous and compassionate pastors, who shrink not from the gospel of Jesus Christ but preach with conviction for the glory of Christ, leading with gentleness the flock of Christ. Oh Lord, bless our families with men and women committed to life-long marriage and to raising their children in godliness and love of country so that the undergirding of this nation might not crumble into a rubbled heap.

Yes, Lord forgive, protect, and bless this nation of ours—the United States of America. Without Your benevolent mercies and gracious generosity we surely will see our noonday liberty turn to night, lost forever in the darkness and doom of a despotism from which we shall never see liberty again. We wait with anticipation and hope for that brilliant day when Christ shines forth as King of kings and Lord of lords. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. But in Your tarrying, bless our land and her peoples with life and liberty.

It is in His powerful and mighty name, even in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, we submit this humble petition. Amen.

[1] Elias Boudinot to Susan Bradford, December 29, 1784, quoted in James H. Hutson, The Founders on Religion: A Book of Quotations (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), 164.

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