I have long been a huge fan of American history. From the revolution to the birth of our country, the biographies of the brave men and women who founded our country have always intrigued me. Benjamin Franklin, one of my favorites, introduced the idea of starting each meeting of the constitutional convention with a prayer. And with the frightening precipice our nation is facing with the upcoming election, his words are as needed today as they have ever been.
The Constitutional Convention had been meeting for five weeks, and had hit a perilous deadlock. The large states were insisting that congressional representation be based on population; the smaller states wanted a one-state-one-vote rule. The entire effort to create a stronger union was in jeopardy. Eighty-one-year-old Benjamin Franklin, quiet during most of the deliberations, then addressed the group. According to James Madison's notes, here is what happened next (condensed).
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 has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered.
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 now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that 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?
…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 divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages…
I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business…
With little deliberation Franklin’s suggestion for prayer was approved and the convention went on to draft and ratify the Constitution of the United States of America, a four-page (yes, only four pages!) document that to this day defines our democracy.
Ben Franklin and our founding fathers touched thousands with the labors of their hearts and prayers. Their legacy has touched millions.
Have you touched anyone lately?