By Dr. Mal Couch
Public prayer, spiritual publications of poems and music, have always been a part of America, until recently. There are forces now trying to silence the Christian spiritual heritage of open and free expression to our God that made this nation great.
Each week Iíll add some historical tidbits as how Christian expression and public prayer was a vital part of our nationís blessing. We may not fully know of the spiritual state of all the men we examine, but we do know none of them were fearful of prayers to the God of the Bible in the public setting.
If you are a pastor or Sunday school teacher, please print off these little bits of our history and share them with others.
Toward the end of the Revolutionary war, the Continental Congress was running out of money. Fifty thousand dollars were needed to tide the troops over. The entire war effort hung in the balance, especially with several months of cold weather ahead.
Robert Morris had come to America as a teenager from Liverpool, England. He had become a very successful merchant, utilizing the port of Philadelphia to great advantage in moving goods to Britain. Morris was stretched to the limit in trying to help the war effort. On New Yearís Eve he decided to attend St. Georgeís Methodist Church in Philadelphia for an all night prayer vigil to ask Godís help to sustain the soldiers at Valley Forge just a few miles away.
Leaving the church at midnight he began going from door to door asking for funds to sustain the war. He awakened his wealthy friends asking for their help. By the end of the first day of the New Year, he had convinced merchants to help him secure the necessary monies. Within hours Washington was told that his troops would have the provisions, equipment, guns, and ammunition they so badly needed.
It would be nearly three years from that winter in Valley Forge before Washington and his men routed the British at Yorktown, effectively ending the war. Prayer had played an integral role in the hard-fought and decisive defeat of the British, as it would in the formation of the new republic. Many of the people in America would not forget what the Lord had done. On July 4, 1783, the first recorded celebration of American independence took place in the Moravian community of Salem, North Carolina, where the entire day was spent in prayerful thanksgiving. The people gathered, prayed, sang hymns, feasted on sweet cakes, partook of fine wine, until it was time for bed. For them, July 4 was not simply a time of setting off fire works, it was truly a time of prayer and of remembering the blessings of their new found freedoms.