Benjamin Franklin's 2 questions still stand
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In 1787, when delegates at the Constitutional Convention were divided and at an impasse how to build our government and frame the U.S. Constitution, an 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin stood and appealed to the other delegates to pray for divine intervention to help them out of their darkness:
In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? 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 labour 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: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move, that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of the City be requested to officiate in that service.
Those are riveting words and questions for any age and country, particularly our own.
The delegates at the Convention decided not to orchestrate a daily formal ceremony led by various clergy in the area due to the advanced stage of the Convention, not because they didn’t believe in the power of prayer or its necessity. They still heeded Franklin’s spiritual entreaty through their private prayers and, shortly after, the public institution of paid governmental chaplains.
As the Wallbuilders website explained: “As it turns out, after the Convention, and nine days after the first Constitutional Congress convened with a quorum (April 9, 1789), they implemented Franklin’s recommendation. Two chaplains of different denominations were appointed, one to the House and one to the Senate, with a salary of $500 each. This practice continues today, posing no threat to the First Amendment. How could it? The men who authorized the chaplains wrote the Amendment.”
(To the chagrin of those who erroneously still try to use the First Amendment to abolish the practice of prayer in public places, also in 1789, after being urged by Congress on the same day they finished drafting the First Amendment, President Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation stating that: “It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor.”)
And did Franklin’s, Washington’s, and the other delegates’ prayers pay off?
Answer: Do we have a U.S. Constitution and country?
In 1788, James Madison, the father of the Bill of Rights and our fourth president, reflected a year back on the Constitutional Convention and even earlier on the founding of the republic: “The real wonder is, that so many difficulties should have been surmounted; and surmounted with a unanimity almost as unprecedented as it must have been unexpected. It is impossible for any man of candor to reflect on this circumstance, without partaking of the astonishment. It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in it, a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the revolution.”
Our enemy is no longer Great Britain. But we have equally, if not more, powerful enemies within and without the U.S., and we are even more divided than in America’s beginnings. But whether local, national or international entities, are those enemies more powerful than the Almighty? Are their manipulations and sway beyond His reach? Has their darkness so overshadowed us that even Providence cannot lead us out? Are their conniving politics, propaganda and Ponzi schemes really more powerful than prayer? Have we fell prey to their lies that our prayers are now impotent and ineffective to change the course of history? And how does our participation in that age-old intercessory practice answer all those questions?
My last and most critical question is this: If the greatest leaders in the history of our country, particularly our founders, called upon the Almighty for heavenly assistance in the most critical and perilous of times and experienced His hand of deliverance, wouldn’t this season in our country’s history warrant exactly the same? Maybe more now than ever before?
If you answer in the affirmative, as I do, I’d challenge and call you to participate in two critical upcoming prayer events.
First, the 62ndAnnual National Day of Prayer, or NDP, will be May 2. This year’s theme is “Pray for America.” More than 40,000 public prayer gatherings are expected to take place Thursday in our nation’s capital, state capitals, county seats, cities, towns and villages across America. You can locate a master list of events around the country at National Day of Prayer Task Force website and find an NDP event near you.
Second, because of the intense strongholds we face as a nation, WND Editor Joseph Farah and thousands of others across the land are calling up America’s spiritual reserves, challenging our spiritual fervor and cranking up our spiritual warfare by also declaring a National Day of Prayer and Fasting – and on what better day than Sept. 11, 2013? You can register your intent to participate and help spread the plan virally by going to 911DayofPrayer.com.
If Martin Luther said he had to pray for two hours daily to overcome the devil, and for three hours during particularly busy days; if Jesus Himself said that certain strongholds would only be overcome through prayer and fasting – a discipline to align our spirit and body in prayer; if Benjamin Franklin called for daily prayers, can we not set aside two days this year to stand up for our country by kneeling on its behalf?
Our duty isn’t to judge the outcome, to discern the impact, but simply to pray, as Benjamin Franklin advised.
His two questions still stand and warrant an answer from each of us:
“Have we now forgotten that powerful friend?”
“And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probably that an empire can rise [or rise again] without his aid?”
Two questions, two events – to help restore the United States of America.