- - Sunday, November 29, 2015

Often times, our most effective prayers are those we pray spontaneously alone based on the current cry of our heart. Other times, it is more fitting to join in a common group prayer, or with one person praying on behalf of all those assembled.

Whenever and however you choose to pray for our nation matters not. What is critical is that we actually do so.

One of America’s definitive documents is essentially a prayer straight from the heart of a man who saw the full potential of our great nation. The Gettysburg Address beautifully distills the meaning of America, its history and purpose, in a manner that lends itself to easily become a prayerful cry of our hearts, whether whispered on our knees by our bedsides, or boldly from a microphone in a public gathering.

I’m struck by the similarities between how Jesus Christ brought clarity and fulfillment to the Mosaic Law, and how President Abraham Lincoln brought clarity and fulfillment to our nation’s founding documents.

The Mosaic Law of the Old Testament was beautiful and guiding, but it had one major imperfection; No man was able to fully follow it. Only Jesus Christ, both man and God, could fulfill the law. Because he knew and followed the law of God perfectly, he was able to distill it into two short and simple maxims for our understanding, edification, and salvation: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31) Christ fulfilled every single element of the law. And by doing so, he brought freedom to all who were enslaved to the power of sin. He transformed an unattainable set of rules into a series of signs, revealing to us both God’s holiness and our own need for salvation.

The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution laid the most beautiful foundation for a country in the history of the world. Still, the Constitution was imperfect, and needed to be amended many times. Particularly glaring was the evil of slavery that legally thrived under both documents in our nation’s early years.

Then came President Lincoln, the “prairie lawyer.” He knew American law well enough to distill its meaning down to a simple phrase, “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” No one had ever before so concisely explained the history of America, or our great experiment in democracy, as Abraham Lincoln did in his Gettysburg Address. He succinctly stated the purpose of the “American law,” just as Christ had done so long before regarding God’s law.

Under Lincoln’s leadership, America was finally able to “fulfill” the promise to those who were still enslaved, guaranteeing Thomas Jefferson’s words written in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Lincoln’s leadership did to America’s founding documents what Jesus’ life and sacrifice did to Mosaic Law: Removed the deadly flaw without destroying the righteous foundation.

Praying to God portions of the Gettysburg Address is a very effective way to pray for America and our freedom. Just as we use the Lord’s prayer as a template to teach us how to pray to God about our relationship with him, so may we use the Gettysburg Address as a template to pray to God about our nation.

In our time of broken families, preborn babies who are treated as nothing more than property to be discarded at will, a divisive citizenry, and government encroachment into every aspect of our lives, I invite you to join me in allowing the Gettysburg Address to become the cry of our hearts.

Pray it with me to pay homage to those who gave their lives to secure freedom within America for every human being. Pray it so that America may, once again, become “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

Take time to search through the rich historic treasury of America’s great leaders; and simultaneously, search through the pages of the Bible. In both places, you will find inspiring accounts of men and women, powerful and ordinary, who, when finding themselves in difficult times turned to God in prayer and saw Him answer in miraculous ways. For suggested prayers based on these people, events and truths, visit the website of the American Prayer Initiative (www.americanprayerinitiative.org), a project founded to help restore America’s biblical roots and founding principles.

Rebecca Hagelin has been promoting faith, freedom and family for 30 years. She is a columnist and author of the parenting book, “30 Ways in 30 Days to Protect Your Family”, scheduled for rerelease in May.

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