Every American should be startled and deeply concerned by the idolatrous, un-American prayer that opened the current session of the U.S. Congress. Democrat representative, Emmanuel Cleaver, a Methodist minister, closed his politically correct prayer by invoking the names of foreign gods, saying,
"We ask these things in the name of the monotheistic God, Brahma, and god known by many names by many different faiths. Amen and Awoman.”
Since most Americans profess to be Christian, you would think Jesus Christ would have earned at least a mention, but it was not to be. Cleaver, no doubt, would insist that He is included in the “god known by many names by many different faiths.”
In other words, for the Democrat Party, and many Republicans as well, Jesus Christ is no longer the unique Son of God and Savior of the world. In their secularist, postmodern worldview, all religions worship the same God and call him by different names such as Brahma, Allah, Krishna, Shiva Yahweh, and Jesus Christ.
This prayer serves to highlight how far our culture has drifted from a Christian worldview and the original American vision.
This is Unbiblical and Un-American
Cleaver’s prayer was such a contrast to the prayer that opened the very first session of the U.S. Congress on September 5, 1774. The delegates had met to discuss how to respond to the British invasion of the colonies, their lockdown of the city of Boston, and their closure of the Boston seaport.
Before beginning their discussions, they agreed to have a time of Bible reading and prayer. They invited Rev. Jacob Dusche, an Anglican minister from Philadelphia, to lead them in the time of prayer. After reading the entire 35th Psalm, Dusche began praying, saying,
O Lord, our high and mighty Father, heavenly king of kings, and Lord of Lords, who dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers of the earth, and reignest with power supreme over all kingdoms, empires, and governments. Look down in mercy we beseech thee on these our American states who have fled to Thee from the rod of the oppressor . . . desiring to be henceforth dependent only on Thee. Shower down upon them and the millions they represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting joy in the world to come. All this we ask in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son, and our Savior. Amen (Hyatt, 1726:The Year that Defined America, 113).
As Dusche prayed, many of the delegates, particularly the Anglicans such as George Washington and Richard Henry Lee, knelt in prayer. The Puritans and Quakers, according to their custom, sat with bowed heads and prayed. So powerful was the Bible reading and prayer that Dusche was invited to be the chaplain for the Congress and to open every session with prayer.
Members of this First Continental Congress were a “Who’s Who” of America’s founding generation. They included George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Adams, John Adams, and others. Every day they lifted prayers to God in the name of Jesus Christ.
Thirteen years later, at the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin recalled the power of those daily prayers that were offered in the name of Christ. Recognizing the need for prayer at the Convention, he addressed the Convention president, George Washington, saying,
In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible to danger, we had daily prayers in this room for Divine protection. Our prayers, sir, were heard and they were graciously answered. I therefore beg leave to move that, henceforth, prayers imploring the assistance of heaven and its blessing on our deliberation be held in this assembly every morning before we proceed to business (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 141-42).
Jesus Christ Was at the Center of Their Faith
There is no question that the faith of the founding generation was centered in Jesus Christ. In fact, a British-appointed governor wrote to his superiors in England, “If you ask an American who is his master, he will tell you he has none, nor any governor but Jesus Christ” (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that DefinedAmerica, 81).
This Christ-centered faith was a fruit of the Great Awakening that transformed colonial America. Every founder was affected to one degree or another. This explains a prayer recorded in a prayer journal kept by George Washington in his twenties. It reads, “Bless, O Lord, the whole race of mankind, and let the world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and Thy Son, Jesus Christ” (Hyatt, 1726:The Year that Defined America, 132).
It also explains the Prayer Proclamation of John Hancock while serving as governor of Massachusetts. Hancock, who also served as president of the Continental Congress, called on the constituents of his state, and all Americans, to ask forgiveness for their sins “through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ,” and,
To overrule all the commotion in the world, to the spreading of the true religion of our LORD JESUS CHRIST, in its purity and power, among all the people of the earth (Hyatt, 1726: The Year that Defined America, 171).
This is What Made America Great
Deuteronomy 6:13 directly confronts Cleaver’s idolatrous prayer. It reads, Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.
We gain understanding of this passage by considering the Old Testament Hebrew words for “LORD” and “God.” “LORD” is a translation of Yahweh and this was the personal name of God as revealed to Abraham, Moses, and the Jewish people. “God” is a translation of Elohim, which was a generic name for deity in the ancient near East.
Yahweh revealed Himself to Israel as a personal God with self-consciousness, and will, capable of feeling, choosing, and having a reciprocal relationship with other personal and social beings. Yahweh was the personal name of the God of Israel. The nations surrounding Israel had their Elohim, but Yahweh was their Elohim
The Deuteronomy 6:13 command reads in Hebrew, Fear Yahweh your Elohim and serve him only . . .. Jesus quoted this passage to Satan in Luke 4:8 in response to Satan offering Him all the kingdoms of this world if he would bow down and worship him. Jesus vehemently replied, Get behind Me Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.”
There is no room for religious pluralism here. God our Creator has made Himself known and He alone is worthy of our honor, worship, and service.
Jesus is God Incarnate
In the New Testament, Jesus identified Himself with Yahweh of the Old Testament. For example, in talking to a Jewish audience, Jesus said, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day and he saw it and was glad. They answered, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham? Jesus replied, Before Abraham was, I Am (John 8:58).
Jesus is here alluding to God’s appearance to Moses in the burning bush where He revealed Himself by the Hebrew name Yahweh (Exodus 3:14). The Hebrew name Yahweh is normally translated as “LORD,” but here, in Exodus 3:14, it is translated as “I Am.”
At this point, the Jews took up stones to stone Him because, in their minds, He had blasphemed by identifying Himself with the God of Israel. He had not blasphemed, however, for he was God incarnate. He was Yahweh made flesh, the ultimate revelation of God to humanity.
The early church understood this, which is why they referred to Him by the Greek title kurios, translated as “Lord” in our English Bibles. He is called the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus, and Christ Jesus the Lord.
This is significant for the Hebrew name Yahweh was translated as kurios by the Septuagint, a widely used Greek translation of the Old Testament, produced around 275 B.C. This meant that all Greek-speaking Jews would understand the confession of Jesus as kurios, or Lord, to be a confession of His deity.
The Only Path to National Blessing
Psalm 33:12 says, Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, or literally, Blessed is the nation whose Elohim is Yahweh. America has been blessed like no other nation because her founders honored Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They were not perfect but they acknowledge their need for Him and unashamedly prayed in His name.
The idolatrous prayer of the 117th Congress should be a wake-up call for the American church. This is no time for indifference and compromise. We must take a stand for our Christ-centered faith.
We must also be serious about praying for another Jesus revival to sweep across the land. For only that nation whose God is the LORD has any solid hope of being protected and blessed.
This article is derived from Dr. Eddie Hyatt's book, 1726: The Year that Defined America, available from Amazon and his website at www.eddiehyatt.com. He is also the founder of the "1726 Project" dedicated to educating Americans about the Christian origins of their nation out of a great, spiritual awakening.