By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Pledge to pray for our country for at least five minutes a day. That was the simple but powerful challenge issued to hundreds Monday afternoon at the South Lawn of the State Capital. The hourlong event, North Carolina Call to Prayer Day, was sponsored by the newly formed N.C. Legislative Prayer Caucus, a bipartisan group of state lawmakers “united to defend America’s right to trust in God.”
Between Sen. Jim Davis’ (R-Haywood) opening, a prayer of repentance and a promise to return to the Godly principles passed down from our nation’s founders, and the final prayer offered by Rep. Bert Jones (Una.-Rockingham), the crowd heard from state and national leaders who stressed the necessity of humbly crying out to God for wisdom, strength and courage.
Congressman Mike McIntyre (D-NC), co-chairman of the 83-member Congressional Prayer Caucus, told the crowd that George Washington knew of what he spoke in 1795 when he said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God ….”
“So here, 216 years later, North Carolina statesmen have come together today to create this Legislative Prayer Caucus and reaffirm what our first president rightly said,” McIntyre added.
He said he often asks people who approach him to rail about the nation’s problems a pointed question.
“If it is that important to you and your family, to you and your community, to our state and our nation, would you take five minutes to pray about it?”
“The true source of power is not found in the Halls of Congress. It’s not found in the halls of the Legislature, nor in the chambers of our U.S. or State Supreme Court, nor in the Oval Office in the West Wing or in the Governor’s Office on Jones Street,” McIntyre declared. “It is found on our knees before the throne of grace before Almighty God, asking for His blessing, mercy and guidance.”
Congressman Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said when he talks to constituents, they all want to know basically one thing — is the future of America optimistic or pessimistic? He said the answer hinges on whether America has the right to trust in God and whether that right is strong enough so that it can be proclaimed from the housetops.
Forbes illustrated the power of the Congressional Prayer Caucus with the story of the Capitol’s $621 million visitors center, in which designers omitted the Pledge of Allegiance and used E Pluribus Unum instead of In God We Trust for the national motto. He said members of the Prayer Caucus stayed on the House Floor from morning until 10 at night and vowed to shut down the center unless the motto was corrected and the pledge included.
“Today if any of you go to that visitors center, you will see the Pledge of Allegiance is engraved in stone and you will also see In God We Trust …” he said, adding that if men and women continue to have the courage to stand up like those forming the N.C. Prayer Caucus, ” …We will not only write In God We Trust in the visitor center; we will write it once again in the hearts of America.”
On the state level, speakers at the event included Justice Paul Newby of the N.C. Supreme Court, who read the Preamble of the State Constitution to put the relationship between God and country into perspective: “We, the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for the preservation of the American Union and the existence of our civil, political and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those blessings to us and our posterity, do, for the more certain security thereof and for the better government of this State, ordain and establish this Constitution.”
Accompanied at the event by Justices Barbara Jackson and Robert Edmunds, Newby said, “We believe that unless we, as a state, get back to the fundamentals of thanking God, seeking his wisdom, humbling ourselves before Him, we will not be able to do justice.”
Commissioner of Labor Cherie Berry told the crowd that families in North Carolina are hurting and shared a poem by UNCC English professor Barbara Presnell to illustrate the plight of many impacted by layoffs. She said it will take time and “everyone working together, no matter what your philosophy,” to survive difficult times, and she prayed for wisdom and courage to make the right decisions.
Rep. Jeff Collins (R-Nash) issued the Call to Prayer for North Carolina, reminding the crowd of the promise found in 2 Chronicles 7:14: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
Following a moment of silent prayer, Jones wrapped up the event with the following March 18, 1948 prayer from Senate Chaplain Peter Marshall: “Our Father in Heaven, save us from the conceit which refuses to believe that God knows more about government than we do, and deliver us from the stubbornness that will not seek God’s help. Today we claim Thy promise: ‘If any man lack wisdom let him ask of God, who giveth to all liberally and it shall be given to him.’ Thou knowest, Lord, how much we need it. Make us willing to ask for it and eager to have it. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”
Leaders of the new N.C. Legislative Prayer Caucus, co-chaired by Davis and Rep. Norman Sanderson (R-Craven), told the crowd that Monday’s event was not a one-time happening, but part of a movement sweeping the nation as states follow the model of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and call on citizens to commit to prayer. Many in attendance signed a prayer proclamation and a petition to affirm “In God We Trust” as the national motto. McIntyre also urged them to visit the www.prayusa.com web site to get plugged in to upcoming issues and events.