PRAYER IN CONGRESS 

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Today in Prayer: June 27, 1947

Rev. Peter Marshall, D.D., Chaplain of the U.S. Senate delivered the following prayer at the opening daily session of Congress:

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, for we find that to wait is often harder than to work.

When we wait upon Thee, we shall not be shamed, but shall renew our strength. 

May we be willing to stop our feverish activities and listen to what Thou hast to say, that our prayers shall not be the sending of night letters, but conversations with God.

This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Rev. Peter Marshall, D.D., Chaplain of the U.S. Senate at the opening daily session of Congress, May 27, 1948:

"Lord Jesus, as Thou dost move amoung people and see what men are doing today, how sore must be Thy heart.

Thou whose head was cradled in straw must often reflect that straw was not as coarse as man's selfishness.

Thou whose hands were spread upon a cross and fastened with nails much often reflect that nails were never so sharp as man's ingratitude.

Hear us as we pray for this poor blundering world, in which the nations never seem to learn how to live as brothers.

They resort again and again to methods that produce only more bitter tears, methods that only add to misery and subtract nothing from problems.

Heal them that need healing, make strong the wavering, guide the perplexed, befriend the lonely, give faith and courage to those whose spirits are low.

Lift up our heads, put a new light in our eyes and a new song in our hearts, and we will do better and be better for the sake of Thy love. Amen."


George Washington, in his first inaugural address, 1789:

"Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station, it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aide can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes; and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge."


  Thomas Jefferson:

"I shall need, too, the favor of that Being in whose hands we are, who led our fathers, as Israel of old, from their native land and planted them in a country flowing with all the necessaries and comforts of life; who has covered our infancy with His providence and our riper years with His wisdom and power, and to whose goodness I ask you to join in supplications with me that He will so enlighten the minds of your servants, guide their councils, and prosper their measures that whatsoever they do shall result in your good, and shall secure to you the peace, friendship, and approbation of all nations."


Below is a speech recorded by James Madison and purported to have been made by Benjamin Franklin at the Constitutional Convention on June 28, 1787:

"The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other---our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances. 

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 Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, & 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? Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? 

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proof 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 this City be requested to officiate in that Service."