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Sabbath Rest: Prayer
Benjamin Franklin was not the only one who turned to prayer as a remedy for the state of the nation. Samuel Wales, a Connecticut minister, prescribed the same remedy as the ...

Sabbath Rest: Prayer

Benjamin Franklin was not the only one who turned to prayer as a remedy for the state of the nation. Samuel Wales, a Connecticut minister, prescribed the same remedy as the good doctor from Philadelphia. He explained both the disease and its cure before the Connecticut Assembly in 1785, a year before the Philadelphia Convention convened. But it was commerce and wealth, not the constitution, that ailed the heart of this eloquent minister and Yale scholar.

“The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. He hath given us a very extensive country abounding with the richest gifts of nature,” he noted of the many delicacies Americans enjoyed.

“A proper view of all our various blessings will lead us to conclude that we are indeed the most highly favoured people under heaven. God hath not dealt so with any other nation,” Wales reminded his listeners. He believed prosperity was not a replacement for the security of faith, something he feared his fellow Americans were quickly forgetting. “But security in happiness is not the lot of humanity,” he declared.

His was a bold statement in front of an audience of lawmakers. These were men who had fought for independence. They had lived through chaos. Wales, however, persisted in his message. “When we are favoured with a profusion of earthly good, we are exceedingly prone to set our hearts upon it with an immoderate affection, neglecting our bountiful Creator from whom alone all good is derived. We bathe and bury ourselves in the streams, forgetting the fountain whence they flow. This is indeed a very disingenuous behaviour towards the Father of mercies,” he warned.

Wales knew, however, that it was only human nature to take blessings for granted. “When our wants are very pressing, we are willing, or pretend to be willing to apply to God for relief. But no sooner is the relief given than we set our hearts upon the gift, and neglect the giver; or rather make use of his own bounty in order to fight against him. The reason is, because we are more inclined to love the creature than the Creator, to be lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,” Wales continued.

Wales outlined remedies to this common dilemma of humanity. He encouraged his audience to make every endeavor to promote the practice of religion and also to pray. “[W]e ought especially in the use of all proper means, to pray fervently for the effusions of the divine Spirit,” he noted. “Without a divine and supernatural influence, true religion will never prevail.”

Samuel Wales understood the value of prayer to keep the excesses of life from overflowing into ingratitude and selfishness.

Prayer

Thank you for your material blessings and the reminder to pray in humility. Please keep me from focusing on material wealth.

“And when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery”

(Deuteronomy 8:13, 14).


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