02 July 2016
A PRAYER ON THE SUNDAY BEFORE INDEPENDENCE DAY
Brothers and sisters: two hundred forty years ago, just down the road in Philadelphia, the foundational American document declared
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
The Declaration closed, as it had opened, by placing the fate of the nation into the hands of God, declaring
“We, therefore, the representatives of the united States of America, in general congress, assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent states; … and for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”
As we meet to worship our Creator today, it is right and proper that we turn to Him with prayers of thanksgiving, of confession, and of invocation.
Let us pray.
Father, as we assemble in Your house, a house whose walls shade the final earthly resting places of a score of men who gained our independence with physical sacrifice, led by the very Shepherd you sent to them for that purpose, we give you thanks.
We thank you for
A fertile land—a land of still waters and green pastures.
A land of plenty—in which the table you have set for us groans with goodness and nourishment for our bodies from the fertile soil you entrusted to us.
For a land of opportunity for all and not just a few.
For a noble land that seeks, however imperfectly, to be worthy of You, sacrificing over and over again blood and treasure so that other lands, less fortunate, might have the unalienable rights, of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and especially, the right to worship you openly and without fear
For all these—and more—for the many blessings You have showered on us and the protections You have afforded us, we give You thanks and praise.
But Father, we also know that we, individually and as a nation, have not lived up to the standard You expect of us. We have not always been a nation in which all men are received as equal, having had to pay a blood sacrifice to free those of your children whom we had treated as property rather than as brothers and sisters.
We are a land in which many children—through no fault of their-- own go to bed hungry at night.
We are a land that, mainly for the sake of convenience, allows three-quarters of a million babies to be aborted every year without even acknowledging them in our official records and reports as deaths.
We are a land which has allowed—even encouraged--the duties of parenthood to be casually tossed aside and placed into the cold hearts and hands of a social and educational bureaucracies designed to hide You or any mention of You from those very dear little ones.
We are a land in which we have removed You from the public arena, allowing worship of You and adherence to Your dictates to be treated as if they are something shameful, something to be scorned and hidden, rather than the expected norm.
We have lacked the courage to stand up to those who hate You and to bring the good news of Your Son to people who hunger and thirst for him without knowing for whom or what it is they crave -- because we have failed Him and His Great Commission to us.
For all these failings, whether overt or latent, for all these sins of commission and omission—and so many more-- we ask Your forgiveness.
Finally, Father, having acknowledged our sin, our weakness, our greed –we now pray that You will bring a new great awakening to this land. Lead us back onto the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake. Open our hearts, open our minds, refresh our spirits, that we may eagerly take up the cross of your Son.
Send us, Father, to Judea, and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth—across seas and mountains and deserts -- to share the good news of Jesus Christ and Him crucified with those who do not know Him.
But even more Father, send us to the end of the block, send us 50 feet to our next door neighbors, on the same mission. Use us, Father, as your instruments to restore this nation, use us to witness strongly and with courage to our neighborhoods and communities just what it means to follow your Son.
Oh dear heavenly Father, we thank you for Your goodness, we crave Your forgiveness for our sin, and we earnestly desire that You use us to serve You and your blessed Son, Jesus Christ, in whose strong and glorious name we pray.
And the people of God say Amen and Amen.