National Day Of Prayer Speech
By James W. Smith Jr.
Today we seemingly live in a society dominated by secularism, which would, without our vigilance, remove all vestiges of the Bible, religion, and prayer from our government and erode the religious foundation of our daily lives I would submit that America has veered from the original course set by our founding fathers and needs spiritual healing and restoration.
Our founding fathers stated in the Declaration of Independence that “we are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights” and asserted that God will surely stand with those of us who safeguard and bequeath to our children and grandchildren these precious freedoms of life, liberty ,and pursuit of happiness. Our forefathers intended that we enjoy gifts of God: freedom to worship and to pray.
Today we seemingly live in a society dominated by secularism, which would, without our vigilance, remove all vestiges of the Bible, religion, and prayer from our government and erode the religious foundation of our daily lives. I would submit that America has veered from the original course set by our founding fathers and needs spiritual healing and restoration.
President Ford warned in 1974, “Without God there could be no American form of government, nor an American way of life.” President Reagan, who designated the date of the National Day of Prayer, in 1984 summed up secularism vs. religion best, stating: “The frustrating thing is that those who are attacking religion claim they are doing it in the name of tolerance, freedom and open-mindedness. Question: Isn’t the real truth that they are intolerant of religion? They refuse to tolerate its importance in our lives.” How true. If we want to keep these precious freedoms, we must fight, beginning first on our knees in prayer.
The tradition of public prayer, even in government, commenced with the first Congress that wrote the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of religion. That same Congress also established a day for “fasting and public prayer.” But, it lasted more than a day. A note of historical interest: The First Amendment, authored by Fisher Ames, guarantees we Americans freedom of religion, any religion we so choose, but absolutely rejects outright a state religion. We must fight to keep these precious freedoms, and we must start by getting down on our knees in prayer.
Our forefathers would recoil at constitutional challenges against prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Pledge of Allegiance that have recently occurred.
Today’s perilous times demand great strength and character in our political leaders in all three branches of government.
You ask, what creates strength and character in leaders? Daily reading God’s Word and developing a personal prayer life creates an inner strength that grows daily allowing us to know for certain that the joy of the Lord is my strength.
In my view, the restoration and spiritual healing of America must begin at the grassroots level in small town America. We, at that level, must recover the original American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness through living by the code (the Ten Commandments), working hard, being self sufficient, trusting in God, and spending time in prayer. We must pray effectively and fervently.
II Chronicles 7:14 promises, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Proverbs 29:2 reminds us of our need for godly leadership: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan.” We had best pray diligently, because the responsibility for the spiritual state of our nation rests squarely upon believers’ shoulders. Only men and women with vision, moral fiber and character will ever restore this nation.
I was taught that anything worthwhile in life never comes cheap or easy.
Thomas Paine said it this way:. “The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value. I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow brave by reflection, ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles unto death.”
The ancient Chinese warlord, Sun Zu, once said, “Pick a hill worth dying on, before ever deciding to fight.” The restoration and spiritual healing of America is a hill worth dying on. If America is to survive, we must pay the price by humbling ourselves and praying diligently.
The poet Helen Rice wrote, “America the beautiful, may it always stay that way, but to keep old glory flying there’s a price that we must pay. For everything worth having demands work and sacrifice, and freedom is a gift of God that commands the highest price. For all our wealth and progress, are as worthless as can be, without the faith that made us great and kept our country free.”
Daily prayer is my very special alone time with God. I suspect that it is very special to each of you too. When we pray we must be positive, and sincere, and deliver that prayer with enthusiasm.
Attitude and enthusiasm in prayer are everything. It has been said that, “Life is 10 percent of what happens to me but, 90 percent of how I react to it.” We must, how-ever, pray for God’s will to be done in our lives and believe and expect to receive what we pray about.
When we arise in early morning our attitude should be: Good morning Lord! I must admit that my prayers become more desperate when extreme trials enter my life.
Question: Can life’s fiery trials turn out to be a blessing later? Two extreme trials in my life come to mind instantly: First, after going through a very difficult campaign for re-election in 2000, within one month I learned that I had cancer. The next six months was a very difficult time in my life-for both me and my family. But, today I am cancer free. Praise God! His grace is more than sufficient.
In 1996 my beloved first wife, my college sweetheart, my soul-mate of 31 years, died of cancer. Without a doubt, this tragedy was the most traumatic event that I have ever experienced in my life. I found myself in a deep, dark, bottomless pit of despair.
In spite of the circumstances I prayed diligently to. God. God was my only hope of survival and I knew it. I thought life was over and the last thing I ever expected was to re-marry. But, God sent a very special person, someone I had known for twenty-seven years but had not seen in over twenty-three years, and I met her again in my first wife’s parent’s home. Yes, you can love again. Today, Kathy and I are the best of friends, happily married and never a cross word or disagreement in nine years of marriage. God’s grace is indeed sufficient.
Trials in life should alter our perspective about life. It is during these tribulations when we suddenly recognize that God, family, and friends-in that order-matter most. We then must promptly realign our priorities in life accordingly, doing so with an attitude adjustment. Do you find it difficult to be joyful during life’s trials? Trials test our faith, but temper our endurance. Trials should not break us, but rather bend us much closer to God. In Romans 5:3-4, Paul tells us that trials or tribulation produce character. We Southerners say, “This is when you find out the stuff you’re made of.” When trials come we should simply pray for the grace of God to bring us closer to God.
James 1:2-3 reminds us during these times of difficulties that we should “count it all joy,” which is the ultimate test of our faith and it will produce patience, a virtue too few modern-day Americans possess.
Difficulties in life should make us stronger and better Christians. Remember that it takes fire to refine gold and silver, the end product emerging purer and stronger. We Christians must also go through the fire and be refined. We too will emerge stronger and purer. We learn the lessons of complete trust in God in “life’s courtroom of hard knocks, trials and tribulations.” We also learn that God’s grace is always sufficient no matter how dark the trial. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us that “it is the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.”
Sometimes we have to be at the very bottom of the pit in life before we understand we can’t do any-thing about our situation. But God can do everything. It is when we are totally helpless that we pray most fervently and effectively, realizing that only God can solve our problem. And, have you noticed, God’s timetable to answer prayer seldom coincides with ours? God will answer our prayer, in His time, but even then, it may not be the answer we wanted to hear.
Finally, it is during life’s trials and difficulties when people tend to watch us closely. It is then when our unquestioning faith must be demonstrated. Either our light will shine as a beacon to others or we will be a stumbling block. If we let our inner light shine, what God does through us and our actions in response to life’s trials will draw others closer to Him. Like moths to a flame, others will gravitate to us wanting what they see in our lives.
My prayer for President Bush is to remain strong and courageous in all circumstances, relying upon God. My prayer for Congress is unity. My prayer for the Judiciary is for independence, but adherence to our Constitution and statutes in deciding cases. My prayer for us all is that we have God within us and that we let that light shine bright like a lighthouse for all the world to see.
May God richly bless you all.
This article “National Day Of Prayer Speech” delivered by James W. Smith Jr. is excerpted from The Pentecostal Herald an August 2007 edition.