Prayer of the First Continental Congress
As time has passed, some in our society have come to push back against the idea that the United States was founded in a Christian environment. They turn to small episodes from the time of the founding to argue that the founders weren't really Christian in their worldview. Some of the source of the confusion lies on the fact that a few of the founders were deists - but not the type of deists that we think about today. Other confusion arises because of the manner in which the founders spoke was different than today. What the founders understood as a clear reference to God, such as the use of the words "divine providence," is mistranslated today into other more nebulous meanings.
Yet, the evidence of a deep devotion on behalf of most of the founders to God - and especially His Son, Jesus Christ - is found without a great deal of effort. Given that it is the Fourth of July, it is appropriate to look back to one of the first times that the founders gathered together to discuss what might be done about the tyranny that England was heaping on the colonies.
When the delegates of the colonies gathered together for the First Continental Congress in 1774, it appears that they felt it appropriate to call upon the name of God to bless and inform them while they deliberated. The very fact that in this very first gathering of the Continental Congress they determined to call the Reverend Jacob Duché, Rector of the Church of Philadelphia, to call out to God is a very telling fact. And Reverend Duché – without any recorded objection – made it clear to whom he was praying.
O Lord our Heavenly Father, high and mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the Kingdoms, Empires and Governments; look down in mercy, we beseech Thee, on these our American States, who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. To Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give. Take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle!Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle 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 truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst the people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.Amen.Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.
I pray that God guide and bless you this Fourth of July and throughout the rest of the year. I pray that God enlighten you, and increase your knowledge of Him. I pray for our nation and ask God’s continual blessing upon us. I pray all of this in the name of our great Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.