05/09/04 — An old prayer: It is still appropriate today

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An old prayer: It is still appropriate today

Blessed is the nation whose god is the Lord, the people He chose for His inheritance.

—Psalm 133:12


The National Day of Prayer on Thursday did not go unnoticed in Wayne County. There were prayer services in church, and, no doubt, thousands of prayers went up from people who were at home or at work.

There has rarely been a time, it seems, that America was more in need of prayer. And especially appropriate, in the light of recent events, was a prayer that was prayed in 1848 by the Rev. John McJilton of Baltimore.

What brings that one to mind is the collective shame that is being expressed over the despicable treatment of Iraqi prisoners of war by U.S. soldiers. Seldom have Americans shared their feelings of guilt as openly as they have since photographs of those deeds reached our eyes.

McJilton might have envisioned such a situation when he wrote his prayer.

The occasion was the laying of the cornerstone for the Washington Monument. President James K. Polk led the ceremony. When McJilton was called on to pray, his prayer was a short one, but one that seems now to have been prophetic:

“And now, O Lord of all power and majesty, we humbly beseech Thee to let the wing of Thy protection be ever outspread over the land of Washington! May his people be Thy people! May his God be their God! Never from beneath the strong arm of Thy providence may they be removed; but, like their honored chief, may they acknowledge Thee in peace and in war, and ever serve Thee with a willing, faithful acceptable service! Hear our prayer, we beseech Thee, that the glory of this nation may never be obscured in the gloom of guilt; that its beauty may never be so marred by the foul impress of sin that the light of its religious character shall be dimmed. Open the eyes of the people, and let them see that it is their true interest to study Thy laws, to seek Thy favor, and to worship Thee with a faithful worship. All these mercies and blessings we ask in the name and mediation of Jesus Christ, our most blessed Lord and Savior. Amen.”

Amen indeed!

Published in Editorials on May 9, 2004 12:53 AM