FRANKLIN’S PRAYER WHILE THE CONSTITUTION WAS BEING WRITTEN

February 28, 2021

During the writing of the Constitution, after about four weeks of unproductive meetings, it appeared that the delegates were stalled. Benjamin Franklin was the senior delegate at 81 years of age, and was respected by all.  He suggested the convention take a break and pray for the best outcome of the convention when they reassembled. All the delegates thought that was an excellent suggestion and they did take a break and pray.

The following letter  was found in James Madison’s exhaustive archives about the Convention:

“Mr. President:

The small progress we have made after four or five weeks of close attendance and continual reasoning with each other – our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ayes, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding.

We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for methods of government and examined the different forms of those Republics which, having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution, now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all around Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable for our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how it has happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understanding?

In the beginning of the Contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for Divine protection – our prayers, Sir, were heard and they were graciously answered, All of us who engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending Providence in our favor.

To that kind Providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we forgotten that, powerful Friend? Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?

I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth – that God governs in the affairs of men.  And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, that “except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain to build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without His concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: we shall be delivered by our partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproof and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments of Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I, therefore, beg leave to move – that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the clergy of this city be requested to officiate in that service.”

Franklin’s request was granted, and the United States Constitution is now the longest-lasting Constitution known to mankind.

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God Bless You,
Spencer and Sandra Plumley