A Fourth of July Prayer

As we celebrate the Fourth of July this year, I'd like to pray a prayer and issue a charge to all who love liberty in this nation.

Lord Jesus, You who are the way, the truth, and the life; hear us as we pray for the truth that will make all free. Teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to do what is right.

I thought it would be appropriate to open with a prayer for liberty. But, that prayer was not my own. It was not prayed in a church, or a Christian conference or at the recent Billy Graham Crusade.

That prayer was prayed in the halls of Congress to open a session of the Senate. It was Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall who uttered those words, not in 1807, but in 1947. Not long ago.

On this 4th of July, I thought this prayer would be appropriate because this prayer, which exhorts us to live and not just love freedom; this prayer, which defines liberty as the opportunity to do what is right; and, this prayer, which names Jesus as Lord, the way the truth and the life, is more of a reflection of our history and identity as a nation than what we see and hear from the media--and even from Congress!--today.

On this 4th of July, we celebrate: the birth of the United States, freedom from tyranny, freedom to worship without government constraint and freedom to speak and express ourselves, even if that expression means criticizing our government and its leaders, without fear of persecution.

Unfortunately, we can't say the same about most places around the world. In the Middle East and Asia, in particular, people are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed if they speak against the government.

A recent example of the oppression in China has to do with blogs. In the US, there are blogs which support the President and others that call for his impeachment, and everything in between! In China, as of last week, any one who didn’t register their blog with the government could face criminal sanctions. And, because that kind of threat is exactly what the Chinese are accustomed to, over 75% of bloggers had already registered their sites as commanded.

But, the reason we can celebrate such freedom is not because we, as Americans, are in any way geographically, biologically or spiritually predisposed to loving and living in liberty. Ultimately, regardless of where we live or what nation lays claim to our loyalty, true freedom for every individual is found in Jesus. The Bible says that "he whom the Son sets free is free indeed." And, even nations find freedom in their submission to God and His principles. The Bible says "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

That is what our founders understood. They were not perfect men. Far from it. They failed along the way in some very big ways. The stain of slavery will forever mark the pages of our history as proof of their fallibility. But what they did right was infuse biblical principles into the foundations of this republic.

Commenting on the fight for Independence, John Quincy Adams (6th President and son of President John Adams) made this statement: "The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: that it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.”

Here’s Thomas Jefferson, defining the separation of church and state: "The First Amendment has erected a wall of separation between church and state, but that wall is a one directional wall; it keeps the government from running the church, but it makes sure that Christian principles will always stay in government." (Speaking to Danbury Baptists January 1, 1802)

By modern standards, John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson would be labeled out-of-the-mainstream, extremists espousing radical activism.

This week a couple of foundations of our nation suffered a crippling blow at the hands of the Supreme Court. The Court handed down one ruling that essentially calls into question the entire concept of private property. The other ruling stated that the Ten Commandments can’t be posted in a courthouse unless it’s obviously not religious. (I'll be discuss these further in an upcoming blog.)

Keep this in mind as you read one more quote: "We have staked the whole future of American civilization not on the power of government, far from it. We have staked the future of all of our political institutions upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God."

Today, the author of that statement would have probably been kicked out of the Supreme Court and accused of being a religious fanatic with no respect for the constitution. That quote didn't come from Jerry Falwell or James Dobson. It wasn't Ann Coulter or Sean Hannity. It was James Madison, the man who wrote so much of the constitution that he's called "the architect" of the constitution.

"Posterity, you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it." (John Quincy Adams)

Freedom always comes with a price. Today, we don’t have a physical battle, as did the founders. But, we do have a very real cultural and spiritual battle. As Americans, with the right to meet in our churches and Bible studies so openly and publicly every week, we must be active in contacting our representatives about these issues and in voting for the right candidates. Not just in presidential elections! Every justice sitting on the Supreme Court, handing us these decisions that undermine the very principles on which our republic was founded, started years ago on a local ballot somewhere, running for some “lesser” position.

Those men and women who got elected to "lesser" positions, decades later, now charter the course of our nation's destiny. Let’s make good use of our freedom. The Bible says that when the righteous rule, the people rejoice. There is rejoicing yet to be had for our nation.

Lord Jesus, teach us that liberty is not only to be loved but also to be lived. Help us see that our liberty is not the right to do as we please, but the opportunity to do what is right.

May we make good use of our liberty by doing what is right.


At 7/18/2005 11:01:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RIGHT ON! God Bless you!


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