Category Archives: Prayer Targets
Except the LORD shall build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD shall keep the city, the watchman waketh in vain. Psalm 127:1, Webster Bible
Dear Praying Friends,
Noah Webster (1758-1843) believed American children should read American history and learn from American, not British books. His grammar-speller-reader, popularly called the “blue-backed speller” was used to teach American children for over 100 years. The book was selling a million copies per year, 20 years after his death. Royalties from that book afforded Webster time for public service; to produce the first New English Bible translation in 250 years; and, over 27 years, to expand his first American Dictionary to over 70,000 words. Webster, known as the “Father of American Education,” helped create a common American language.
Every child in America should be acquainted with his own country. He should read books that furnish him with ideas that will be useful to him in life and practice. As soon as he opens his lips, he should rehearse the history of his own country; he should lisp the praise of liberty, and of those illustrious heroes and statesmen, who have wrought a revolution in her favor.
A selection of essays, respecting the settlement and geography of America; the history of the late revolution and of the most remarkable characters and events that distinguished it, and a compendium of the principles of the federal and provincial governments, should be the principal school book in the United States. These are interesting objects to every man; they call home the minds of youth and fix them upon the interests of their own country, and they assist in forming attachments to it, as well as in enlarging their understanding.
“Montesquieu observe, that the laws of education ought to be relative to the principles of the government.” In despotic governments, the people should have little or no education, except what tends to inspire them with a servile fear. Information is fatal to despotism…
In our American republics, where (government) is in the hands of the people, knowledge should be universally diffused by means of public schools. Of such consequence is it to society, that the people who make laws, should be well informed… I do not mean merely a knowledge of spelling books, and the New Testament. An acquaintance with ethics, and with the general principles of law, commerce, money and government, is necessary for the yeomanry of a republican state…
This school should be kept by the most reputable and well informed man in the district… The virtues of men are of more consequence to society than their abilities; and for this reason, the heart should be cultivated with more assiduity than the head… (Noah Webster, “On the Education of Youth in America,” The Founders’ Constitution).
Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language (1828) contains six thousand Bible references. He wrote, “Education is useless without the Bible” (Webster’s Dictionary 1828)
With the exception of Ronald Reagan, every President since FDR has proposed sweeping federal reforms to fix public education, yet our children are farther behind and less prepared than any time in modern history. Morals, too, are at a low. Is it time, yet again, for new politically correct federally enforced standards and controls?
One of the wealthiest men in Virginia, George Mason was the primary author of the Virginia Constitution and the Virginia Bill of Rights and is often called the “Father of the Bill of Rights” because of his insistence that such rights be enumerated in the U.S. Constitution.
Although he was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he refused to sign the Constitution because he believed that it did not sufficiently limit the Federal Government’s power from infringing on the rights of States, it did not include a Bill of Rights, and it did not abolish slavery.
During the debates of the Constitutional Convention, George Mason declared on August 22, 1787:
“Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring the judgement of heaven upon a country. As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes and effects, Providence punishes national sins, by national calamities.”*
George Mason’s belief that nations are accountable to God and experience His earthly blessings or His temporal punishments in the present is yet another lost episode in American History.
Read and reflect: Read Amos 4:4-12 and reflect on the “national calamities” in Israel that resulted from national sins then consider some of our own calamities in light of our choices as a nation.
Prayer: Holy Father, remind us that choices have consequences not only for individuals but for nations as well. Forgive us of our unrighteous and unjust decisions as a nation and in your judgment remember mercy, we pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Robert A. Rutland, ed., The Papers of George Mason, 3 vols. (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970), 3:1787.
Founding Father James Wilson died on August 21, 1798. Born and educated in Scotland, he held the distinction of being one of six Founders to sign both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. James Wilson was very active in the Constitutional Convention, having spoken 168 times. Wilson served as a Supreme Court Justice (1789-98), appointed by President George Washington.
In 1790, James Wilson became the first Law Professor of the University of Pennsylvania. In his Lectures on Law, delivered at the College of Philadelphia, 1789-91, James Wilson explained that all law comes from God, and can be divided into four categories: “law eternal,” “law celestial,” “laws of nature,” and:
“That law, which God has made for man in his present state…As promulgated by reason and the moral sense it has been called natural; as promulgated by the holy scriptures, it has been called revealed law. As addressed to men, it has been denominated the law of nature; as addressed to political societies, it has been denominated the law of nations. But it should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same divine source; it is the law of God….Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine.”*
In the records of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Updegraph v. Commonwealth, 1824, Judge James Wilson is mentioned:
“The late Judge Wilson, of the Supreme Court of the United States, Professor of Law in the College in Philadelphia, was appointed in 1791, unanimously, by the House of Representatives of this state….He had just risen from his seat in the convention which formed the constitution of the United States, and of this state; and it is well known, that for our present form of government we are greatly indebted to his exertions and influence. With his fresh recollections of both constitutions, in his Course of Lectures (3d Vol. of his Works, 122), he states that….Christianity is part of the common-law.”*
Though many consider Wilson one of the least theologically orthodox Founders, he nonetheless pointed to Scripture as the foundation for our moral law. That is another lost episode in American history.
Read and reflect: Read Romans 1-2 and reflect on Paul’s discussion of natural law and revealed law and how we are accountable to God regardless of how He has revealed Himself to us.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you that you have revealed yourself and your rules for living both through the means of creation and revelation as found in Scripture. Thank you that even one of the least orthodox among the Founders recognized all law ultimately comes from you, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Bird Wilson, ed., The Works of the Honourable James Wilson, 3 vols. (Philadelphia: Bronson and Chauncey, 1804), 1:104–106 and Updegraph v. The Commonwealth, 11 Serg & R. 393, 394 (Sup. Ct. Penn. 1824).
“It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years…undergoing the strangest vicissitudes that perhaps ever attended any one contest since the creation, both armies are brought back to the very point that they set out from and, that which was the offending party in the beginning is now reduced to the use of the spade and pick axe for defense.
The Hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more wicked that has not gratitude to acknowledge his obligations; but it will be time enough for me to turn Preacher when my present appointment ceases, and therefore, I shall add no more on the doctrine of providence.”*
George Washington’s recognition of God’s Providential intervention in the war led him to jest about becoming a preacher when his military days were done, and that is another lost episode in American history.
Read and reflect: Read Psalm 145 and reflect on how one generation proclaims God’s works to another and compare that with Washington’s testimony to God’s Providence.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, we praise you for such a godly leader who clearly recognized your Divine Hand in history and went out of his way to acknowledge it. Give us leaders in our day who are unashamed to do the same, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington; being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts, 12 vols., (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 6:36.
In response to the August 19, 1789 congratulatory letter from the General Convention of Bishops, Clergy and Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina, President George Washington replied:
“Gentlemen: I sincerely thank you for your affectionate congratulations on my election… On this occasion it would ill become me to conceal the joy I have… to see Christians of different denominations dwell together in more charity, and conduct themselves in respect to each other with a more Christian-like spirit than ever they have done in any former age, or in any other nation.
“I receive with the greater satisfaction your congratulations on the establishment of the new constitution of government, because I believe… the moderation, patriotism, and wisdom of the present federal Legislature seem to promise the restoration of order and our ancient virtues, the extension of genuine religion, and the consequent advancement of our respectability abroad, and of our substantial happiness at home.
“I request, most reverend and respected Gentlemen, that you will accept my cordial thanks for your devout supplications to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe in behalf of me. May you, and the people whom you represent, be the happy subjects of the divine benedictions both here and hereafter.”*
George Washington’s commendation to the ministers for their “Christian-like spirit” of unity and confidence that the establishment of a constitutional government promises a restoration of “ancient virtues” and the promotion of “genuine religion” is indeed another lost episode in American history.
Read and reflect: Read Psalm 133:1 and reflect on the blessing of Christian churches and individuals treating each other with respect and love.
Prayer: Father thank you for the Scripture-honoring example of the church during the establishment of our Federal Government. May churches today strive to treat each other with genuine respect and even Christian love, in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
*Source Citation: Jared Sparks, ed., The Writings of George Washington; being His Correspondence, Addresses, Messages, and Other Papers, Official and Private, Selected and Published from the Original Manuscripts, 12 vols., (Boston: American Stationer’s Company, 1837), 12:162-163.