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 I’ll add some historical tidbits as how Christian expression and public prayer was a vital part of our nation’s 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.
Samuel Davies was born in New Castle County, Delaware in 1723. His parents named him "Samuel" to remind him always that he was "the son of prayer," harking back to the Old Testament prophet. Davies served in the French and Indian Wars and was ordained as a "New Light" Presbyterian, committed to serving as an evangelical preacher in spreading the Word of God.
Davies was Jonathan Edward’s successor as president of the College of New Jersey (Princeton). He was respected as a historian and, when visiting London, was invited to officiate at Sunday services for King George II.
Davies spent considerable time composing prayers and hymns to accompany his Sunday services. While he was criticized for roaming outside of the Psalms for musical worship, he continued to do so in order to bring freshness to the Sunday services. He reveled in spiritual relevance for the benefit of others. In his prayers he would approach God by likening himself as a piece of clay. He wanted his prayers published to help others struggling in their communication with the Lord.
Davies wrote some one hundred poems and prayers, many of which he appended to his messages. A month after saying these words in a sermon, "Pray frequently, pray fervently!" Davies was dead.
He most famous hymn, still sung today, was Great God of Wonders.
Great God of wonders! All Thy ways
Are worthy of Thyself—divine;
But the bright glories of Thy grace
Among Thine other wonders shine;
Who is a pardoning God like thee?
Or who has grace so rich and free?