Psalm 35 and America
I was surprised to learn that the first official act of the first American Congress in 1774 was to read Psalm 35 and pray. That prayer was not a superficial one, as we would expect to hear in a public gathering today.
Congress had just received the news of the attack upon Boston by British troops. John Adams described the profound time of prayer led by the local minister:
"[Rev.] Duche unexpectedly to everybody, struck out into an extemporary prayer which filled the bosom of every man present. I must confess I never heard a better prayer....with such fervor, such ardor, such earnestness and pathos, and in language so elegant and sublime for American [and] for the Congress....It has had an excellent effect upon everybody here."
Another member of that Congress declared that it was "a prayer...worth riding one hundred miles to hear" (i.e., that it was worth spending three days on horseback to arrive in time for that prayer), and that as a result of that prayer, "even Quakers shed tears."
Also that morning, the Congress read from four chapters in the Bible, and John Adams reported to his wife that one particular chapter especially impacted the group: "I never saw a greater effect upon an audience. It seemed as if Heaven had ordained that Psalm to be read on the morning....I must beg you to read...the 35th Psalm [to your friends]."
Providentially, that psalm was the assigned passage from the Book of Common Prayer for that day. After reading this account in American's Godly Heritage by David Barton, I opened to Psalm 35 and wept as I read it.
Psalm 35 opens with these words: "Contend, O LORD, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me."
It is time for us to again pray Spirit-inspired prayers for our country.
Father, we repent because we've turned away from You and do not look to You to guide our nation.