The First Prayer in Congress
"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.
Reverend Jacob Duché
Rector of Christ Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
September 7, 1774, 9 o’clock a.m.
Peter Marshall, U.S. Senate Chaplain
“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.
Rev. Peter Marshall, D.D.
Chaplain of the U.S. Senate
Opening daily session of Congress, May 27, 1948
United States Supreme Court
The opening of sessions of legislative and other deliberative public bodies with prayer is deeply embedded in the history and tradition of this country. From colonial times through the founding of the Republic and ever since, the practice of legislative prayer has coexisted with the principles of disestablishment and religious freedom… In light of the unambiguous and unbroken history of more than 200 years, there can be no doubt that the practice of opening legislative sessions with prayer has become part of the fabric of our society.
Marsh v. Chambers, 463 U.S. 783, 787, 792 (1983).
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Contact the Congressional Prayer Caucus Amy Vitale, Amy.Vitale@mail.house.gov