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First Prayer In Congress 1774


FirstPrayerInCongress.jpg (36847 bytes)Representatives from each of the 13 states met in Philadelphia to iron out differences that threatened to destroy the new nation.  However, the battles between them intensified until statements made by Benjamin Franklin brought a sobering air to the room.

"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 tan empire can rise without His aid?

... I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business..."

Our Constitution was written shortly thereafter, by men who earnestly sought God. This enduring print captures that event, The First Prayer in congress, with exquisite detail.  As an American, you too, will want to display this high-quality, limited edition print in your home or office, and tell others the story behind it!

(Measures 20" x 26", sold unframed, printed on 80 lb. cover weight acid-free paper)

Introducing . . .
The First Prayer in Congress

A Constant Reminder That America Was Born With a Prayer and Founded as a Nation "UNDER GOD".

September 1774.  Carpenter’s Hall – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  35th Psalm fell on that day in the regular Episcopal readings.  It was such an appropriate Psalm that all must have felt it was a message from God.  This Psalm is still chosen today by those feeling overwhelmed by tyrannical forces, and it still has a profoundly uplifting effect on any audience that hears it.

The Actual First prayer

"Lord our Heavenly Father, High and Mighty King of kings, and Lord of lords, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers on earth and reignest with power supreme and uncontrolled over all the 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 and thrown themselves on Thy gracious protection, desiring to be henceforth dependent on Thee, to Thee have they appealed for the righteousness of their cause; to Thee do they now look up for that countenance and support, which Thou alone canst give; take them, therefore, Heavenly Father, under Thy nurturing care; give them wisdom in Council and valor in the field; defeat the malicious designs of our cruel adversaries; convince them of the unrighteousness of their Cause and if they persist in their sanguinary purposes, of own unerring justice, sounding in their hearts, constrain them to drop the weapons of war from their unnerved hands in the day of battle! Be Thou present, O God of wisdom, and direct the councils of this honorable assembly; enable them to settle things on the best and surest foundation. That the scene of blood may be speedily closed; that order, harmony and peace may be effectually restored, and truth and justice, religion and piety, prevail and flourish amongst Thy people. Preserve the health of their bodies and vigor of their minds; shower down on them and the millions they here represent, such temporal blessings as Thou seest expedient for them in this world and crown them with everlasting glory in the world to come. all this we ask In the Name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Son and our Savior.


The First Prayer offered in Congress

September 7th, 1774 by Jacob Duche in Carpenters Hall, Philadelphia

Witnesses record that during the prayer Washington knelt along with Henry, Randolph, Lee, Rutledge and Jay.  The last two were originally the most vocal in opposing the idea of a prayer.  After the prayer a profound silence followed, so deep was the sense of responsibility upon each man present.

Eventually a grave-looking man, coarsely dressed arose and began to speak, to the annoyance of the secretary who thought he was a country minister trying to show off.  “But an unusual force of argument and a singular impassioned eloquence soon electrified the house.”  This was how the world first learned of one of the greatest orators of all time: Patrick Henry.  In the future he would often speak for the heart of the American people.  Here his role was simply to state what had just been accomplished:  “British oppression has effaced the boundaries of the several colonies.  The distinctions between Virginians and Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers and New Englanders are no more.  I am not a Virginian but an American.”  Who would have expected that a few men praying could so profoundly change the course of history?

Reverend Duche was later appointed Chaplain of Congress on July 6, 1776, two days after the Declaration of Independence.  He officiated every morning at 9:00 am until September 28th, when while leaving church he was arrested by the British.  While he served Congress he asked that his $150 salary be used for the relief of widows and orphans of Pennsylvania officers.

Details about The First Prayer in Congress

This is the only known early American painting of the First Prayer in Congress.  Every detail was fully researched by the artist.  It is so carefully delineated that it was used in more recent times to guide the restoration of Carpenter’s Hall.

It is interesting to note the choices of the artist in designing his work: The various prayer styles are reflective of the religion of each participant.  Behind the podium used by the Reverend Duche is another higher podium, used by the President of the Assembly, but it is unoccupied.  No one would allow himself to sit in a station appearing higher than the representative of God.    In fact, the President of this Assembly, Peyton Randolph of Virginia, has left his high station and takes the lowest position in the painting.  He is in the foreground on the left with his face covered by his own hands, appearing to bow more deeply than the others.  Next to him is Washington, the only one facing the same direction as Reverend Duche, implying an accord with God’s vision.  He stands out with a darker suit than those around him, indicating his emerging leadership role.

One scrap of paper occupies center stage; perhaps this is the message they just received that Boston was being shelled by the British.    The other papers and books look like they are all about to fall, perched on the edge of their tables.  Perhaps these represent man’s worldly concerns and they are suspended precariously in wait as the men turn their attention to the more pressing need to be with God.

Prayer – As it Relates to American History

Our Founding Fathers were God-fearing men.    Our more prominent patriots—Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Henry—often prayed in the course of their duties or commissions. 

Textbooks never mention how General George Washington knelt at Valley Forge and petitioned Almighty God to spare his men and get them through that terrible winter—yet historians have proof it happened!  This may be the first time you've heard of the First Prayer in Congress, until now, yet we have the accounts of many eyewitnesses who testified it transpired that fall morning in 1774. 

Prayer has played a vital role in the birth and development of our Nation.  The First Prayer in Congress was originally painted to celebrate the occasion that marked a turning point in our country’s struggle for Independence.  Now, it remains as a symbol of integrity, faith and freedom for current and future generations to enjoy.