“No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency.”
– President George Washington, from his first inaugural address, April 30, 1789.
WASHINGTON – What advice would George Washington have for voters in 2016?
“Pray,” he would probably say.
Not just because the bombastic presidential campaign of 2016 has been so unlike any other in U.S. history, and may well prove to be one of the most consequential.
But also because the nation’s first president didn’t just truly believe in the power of prayer. He believed prayer was indispensable to the welfare of the republic.
Many Americans still feel that way.
That’s why some the nation’s most well-known Christian churches and organizations have organized a non-partisan three-night prayer rally on Capitol Hill, culminating on the evening the ballots are counted, when the nation will find out if the next president will be Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
The gathering for concerned citizens to pray for the election and the nation’s future will be held on Nov. 6, 7 and 8, at the Upper Senate Park.
That park is just across the street from the north side of the Capitol, on Constitution Avenue, at New Jersey Avenue.
The prayer rally on Sunday, Nov. 6, will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern.
Prayers on Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 7 and 8, will begin at 7 p.m. Eastern.
Individuals and church groups are invited to attend.
The organizers ask that no political clothing, apparel, banners or signs be worn or brought to the event. (That includes any type of musical instruments or shofars.) Attendees may bring lawn chairs and blankets. Cars and buses may park at Union Station, just north of Upper Senate Park.
Those who cannot attend in person may participate by watching the event live online at the Skyline Church website.
Leading the three-night prayer vigil will be hosts pastor Dan and JoAnn Cummins of the Jefferson Gathering Worship Services, as well as leaders from well-known Christian churches and organizations.
Those include the Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, Triumph Church of D.C., Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council, Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation, Somebody Cares International of Houston, Texas, Faith & Action in the Nation’s Capital, and Hombres De Parabra (Men of Their Word) of Washington, D.C.
Organizers tell WND they believe that prayer, not politics, is the only hope and answer to America’s problems. The event will be a nonpartisan call for a return to biblical principles.
“Where people are praying, there is hope. When people pray, things happen,” said Cummins, an associate pastor of Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, California, and the onsite pastor of the Jefferson Gathering Worship Services.
Those services are held weekly in the nation’s Capitol building for members of Congress, staff and all federal employees.
Cummins and his wife, JoAnn, first began holding “Come Pray With Me” rallies in the small rural East Texas town of Bullard in 2010. The public is welcome to join the nonpartisan evening vespers.
Cummins is spearheading the upcoming three-night prayer rally because he calls this “the most important presidential election since the Civil War.”
“Skyline Church is involved because we understand that America is in a crisis moment. The nation – as we know it – is gasping for air. This is neither melodramatic nor defeatist. It is simply fact,” said Dr. Jim Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego and oversite pastor of the Jefferson Gathering.
“The Kingdom of God will be fine – with or without America,” Garlow continued. “But America may not survive. We pray for voters to enter the voting booth with a healthy reverence of God, casting a ballot for biblical concepts and principles.”
Cummins is the man who has, in a manner of speaking, kept the spirit of Washington alive in nation’s capitol for the past five years. The annual “Washington: A Man of Prayer” gathering is his brainchild.
The event commemorates the events of April 30, 1789, when, after being sworn in at Federal Hall, President Washington, accompanied by Congress, proceeded to St. Paul’s Chapel where, as one of his first official acts, the president offered a prayer of dedication to God on America’s behalf.
Launched in May 2012, the annual “Washington: A Man of Prayer” features members of Congress offering prayers on behalf of the nation, its president and his Cabinet, the Supreme Court and its justices, and members of Congress.
At 2013’s event, the speech given by Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of the New York Times bestseller “The Harbinger” and the subject of the blockbuster documentary film “The Harbinger Man,” became an online sensation, with more than 11 million people viewing it on on just one of the social networking sites where it was posted.
Doug Stringer of Houston, Texas, and founder of Somebody Cares International, believes the upcoming prayer rallies are important because, “We are living in very challenging, critical and volatile times. Every day the news is filled with more human tragedy or disaster. Crises are escalating at an unprecedented rate. As the Body of Christ, we must respond.”
Stringer said the reason many from his organization are flying to Washington to participate is because, “It’s about the church humbling herself and crying out before God. Our private posture affects our public influence. Our private choices have public consequences. There is a battle for the soul of our nation.”
The focus of the nonpartisan event will be prayers for the nation and the election, because organizers are mindful of the influence of the Judeo-Christian ethics upon which America was founded. They hope that this election will help bring the nation back to its core values.
“There is a steady undercurrent of targeted efforts to remove God from every vestige of American life and culture. These battles confirm a tangible reality that the things we hold sacred are slowly eroding away all around us,” said Lea Carawan, president and executive director of the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation.
“Thankfully,” she continued, “God’s people are unifying with one heart and one voice in prayer for the country and those who lead her. God has been and always will be our only source of hope.”
Cummins said, “The focus of evening prayers will span from the White House to every house in America. The Supreme Court nominees and the judicial system will be a center of focus.”
Peggy Nienaber is vice president of programs and operations for “Faith & Action in the Nation’s Capital,” an organization that ministers primarily to the Supreme Court.
She said, “If ever the American people needed to talk and listen to God – it is now. Faith & Action in the Nation’s Capital is a missional ministry to our nation’s leaders, no matter who they are. It is clear, that our work on Capitol Hill is more important now than it has been before.”
Many Americans may know that President Thomas Jefferson coined the expression “a wall of separation between church and state.”
But most Americans probably do not know that Jefferson also allowed the U.S. Capitol to be used for weekly Christian church services, which he attended.
A contradiction? Not the way Jefferson saw it.
In his letter to the Danbury Baptists in 1802, Jefferson felt his “wall of separation” was to protect the church from the state, and, contrary to the modern interpretation, not to protect the state from the church.
His letter described “religion (as) a matter which lies solely between Man & his God” and that government should not prevent the free expression of religion. Even, apparently, within the very halls of government.
After Jefferson gave his blessing to church services in the Capitol, it became the largest church on the East Coast, with as many as 2,000 in attendance from 1800 to 1869.
Services were held in the very chamber where the House of Representatives met from 1807 to 1857, now called Statuary Hall.