While the United States was founded on many Judeo-Christian values and principles, freedom of religion was also instrumental to the birth of our nation. Thus, Thomas Jefferson wrote of a “wall of separation between Church and State.” But however high this imaginary wall may be, its presence has never stopped Christians from praying for our country.
Today’s prayer was written by Charlotte’s own Billy Graham. I like this prayer, though one can see how it might be easily politicized, by both conservatives and liberals in America; each with the hope of using Graham’s words to further their own political agenda. The terrible mistake we make in this nation is attaching God to one or another political party, thus demonizing those who happen to belong to the one opposite from us. There was great wisdom in Jefferson’s idea of this “wall of separation.” Tony Campolo suggests that blending the Church and State is like mixing ice cream with manure: “it doesn’t affect the manure much, but it really messes up the ice cream!” How true. Bringing politics into our faith does nothing but poison and corrupt it. Indeed, it should be our faith determining how we live out our politics, and never the other way around.
I believe Graham’s words, when prayed properly, rise above politics, precisely because they show the need for us all (no matter where we stand on the political spectrum) to acknowledge our sin and humble ourselves before God. Let us pray:
Our Father and our God, we praise You for Your goodness to our nation, giving us blessings far beyond what we deserve. Yet we know all is not right with America. We deeply need a moral and spiritual renewal to help us meet the many problems we face. Convict us of sin. Help us to turn to You in repentance and faith. Set our feet on the path of Your righteousness and peace. We pray today for our nation’s leaders. Give them the wisdom to know what is right, and the courage to do it. You have said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” May this be a new era for America, as we humble ourselves and acknowledge You alone as our Savior and Lord. This we pray in Your holy name, Amen.