Thursday, May 7, 2009

National Day of Prayer

I head the pleasure of presenting the keynote address at the National Day of Prayer service on the North Steps of the State Capitol today. The following is the text of my remarks:

"Thank you to Audrey McIntyre and the team from the Connecticut House of Prayer for your work organizing our service today. Our state is fortunate to have such dedicated people of faith carrying the message “Our Saviour!”

Prayer is indeed America’s Hope! Psalm 33:22 "May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you."

I share a birthday with one of my favorite spiritual leaders of our lifetime – Pope John Paul II, who said, “We cannot live without hope. We have to have some purpose in life, some meaning to our existence. We have to aspire to something. Without hope, we begin to die.”

Pope John Paul II was one of the most prolific writers of the 20th Century. In a message to Catholic Charismatics in 1996, he said, “True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather, it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life, in the family, at school, and in social and political involvement.”

This message reminds me that separation of church and state does not mean the Gospel is not welcome in the political process. Indeed, the First Amendment, approved in 1791, states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Abraham Lincoln understood this perhaps better than any other president when he said, “It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.”

Faithful people of Connecticut have experienced great challenges watching the actions of legislators in this beautiful building. We have seen proposals which we’ve strongly disagreed with and some of us spoke out. I am grateful for those of you who contacted your legislators to express your displeasure. I am more concerned about the silence of many hundreds of thousands who quietly opposed legislation but did not contact their legislator.

The intense experiences as a freshman senator addressing legislation that threatened my Church and my faith led me to more intense prayer. I found myself regularly asking for friends and family to pray for me and my fellow legislators that we would have the wisdom to act responsibly during our deliberations.

I came across the Capitol Prayer Network in Minnesota – a group of nearly 5,000 people of faith praying for their legislators. Their group extended their border when I reached out to them and they were praying for us here in Connecticut.

Today I’d like to introduce an idea to you – the Connecticut Capitol Prayer Network. Several organizations, including the Connecticut House of Prayer, are providing prayer leadership in our state. Perhaps we can consider a sharper focus on regular prayer for our State Capitol – like the group in Minnesota and others who focus on the U.S. Capitol.

The Connecticut Capitol Prayer Network needs a pastoral leader and I pray that the Lord will direct someone to this ministry.

I am deeply humbled to join this esteemed group of faith leaders today. I am grateful to my Lord for His protection as His humble servant.

In closing, I refer to 1 Timothy 1:12 - “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service.”

Thank you and God Bless the great State of Connecticut!"

Interested in joining the Connecticut Capitol Prayer Network?