Most circulating emails are simply sentimental claptrap. Even though I usually roll my eyes when they arrive unsolicited into my inbox, I’m such a sucker for reading them. Today I received one such email that has been successfully circulating in the digital universe for the past 12 years or more. I was unprepared for the metaphorical ‘2 by 4’ of truth that hit my head.

“Billy Graham’s ‘Prayer For Our Nation’”

“Oh great,” I groaned inwardly, “another piece of pious prose.”

“Truth…from a man the media has never been able to throw dirt on…amazing! He has certainly hit the ‘world’ on the head!”

“Yeah, whatever,” I thought skeptically.

“This man sure has a good view of what’s happening to our country!”

“Well, don’t we all!…But, there’s no harm in just skimming through it.”

The prayer:

“Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, ‘Woe to those who call evil good (Isaiah 5:20),’ but that is exactly what we have done.

“We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our ‘values’. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it ‘welfare’.

“We have killed our unborn and called it ‘choice’. We have shot abortionists and called it ‘justifiable’.

“We have neglected to discipline our children and called it ‘building self-esteem’. We have abused power and called it ‘politics’. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ‘ambition’.

“We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it ‘freedom of expression’. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it ‘enlightenment’.

“Search us, Oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen.”

“Oh wow,” I said half-stunned. “Here is something profoundly true.”

I researched the origin of the prayer. It turns out, as reported by Snopes, that the prayer first burst onto the pubic scene in January 1996 when Rev. Joe Wright, senior pastor of a 2,500-member Church in Wichita, Kansas, delivered the prayer at the Kansas House of Representatives.

Immediately after the “Amen,” one democrat reportedly stormed out of the House in protest. Others later blasted Wright’s prayer as a “message of intolerance,” calling it “divisive,” “sanctimonious,” and “overbearing.”

Democratic House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer asserted at the time that the prayer “reflects the extreme, radical views that continue to dominate the House Republican agenda since right-wing extremists seized control of the House Republican caucus last year.”

Rev. Wright responded that he “certainly did not mean to be offensive to individuals.”

“But, I don’t apologize for the truth,” he added.

Conservative radio broadcaster Paul Harvey aired the story of the prayer in February that same year. Harvey reportedly received more responses to the broadcast than to any he had previously aired. A separate phone number had to be set up in his studio after the broadcast to handle the huge volume of calls, according to TruthOrFiction.

The prayer may have been improperly attributed to Billy Graham, who at 93 is America’s most famous Christian evangelist and preacher, on account of him having occasionally made use of the prayer in public. 

Upon reflection, it seemed necessary to me to add a few relevant ‘sins of our times’ to the prayer.

We have aggressively assaulted spousal communion between a husband and wife by artificially separating the unitive and procreative meanings of the marital act and called it “family planning”.

We have attacked the holy bond of matrimony between a man and a woman and called it “equal rights”.

We have darkened the minds and hearts of our precious children with lust and immorality and called it “sexual health”.

We have legalized the medical killing of our sick and elderly and called it the “right to self-determination”.

Why is making such a prayer often contentious? Because people do not like to hear about sin. The world does not like to hear that some things in God’s sight are wrong and always will be wrong, no matter how they are dressed-up and made to appear different from what they really are.

A prayer like this is challenging because people do not like to be reminded that there is a high Judge over them who will one day ask them to give an account of how they lived their lives.

A prayer like this is powerful for its ability to strip the sheep’s clothing off the wolf to reveal the real monsters that troll the culture, seeking to deceive and devour all who come along their way.

This prayer has certainly “hit the ‘world’ on the head” and continues to do so to this day.

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