PRAYERS WRITTEN BY JEFFERSON
>THANK YOU SINCERELY for your wonderful "JEFFERSON BIBLE" homepage, >Eyler! I visited and read portions.... > >Do you know whether there is a PRAYER or PRAYERS which TJ wrote? If so, >where would I find the text(s). THANKS for your assistance. Thanks for stopping by, and for your kind words. Jefferson often spoke of prayer, as in: "Distant as we are from the powers of Europe, and devoted to pursuits which separate us from their affairs, we still look with brotherly concern on whatever affects those nations, and offer constant prayers for their welfare." --Thomas Jefferson to the King of Holland, 1807. ME 11:161 In a letter to John Page, Aug. 5, 1776 (Memorial Edition, vol. 4, pg. 272), he wrote: "I enclose you (to amuse your curiosity) the form of the prayer substituted in the room of the prayer for the King by Mr. Duche, chaplain to the Congress. I think by making it so general as to take in Conventions, assemblies, etc., it might be used instead of that for the parliament." This seems to refer to a prayer written by someone else to be used for the opening of sessions of the Congress. Unfortunately, my edition of Jefferson's writings does not include the enclosed prayer. I suspect it might be included in the Jefferson Papers (Boyd, ed.). In any case, I do not have a copy of the prayer. And I do not know of any other prayer that Jefferson may have written out himself. I would tend to doubt that there is such a written prayer, because Jefferson considered religion a very private matter, and as a rule did not share his convictions with any other than very close friends, and was not given to religious formalities.
> I am looking for a prayer that Mr. Jefferson wrote entitled "Prayer for the > Nation". My websearch has yet to produce any results. Do you have any > suggestions? It is a beautiful and heartfelt prayer. I have not run across a prayer written by Jefferson and titled, "Prayer for the Nation." Offhand, I have great doubts that Jefferson would have written such a prayer for PUBLIC use. It is conceivable he might have written a prayer for the nation as a private act. As you know, he was opposed to public religious acts promoted by the government. He wrote: "It is... proposed that I should recommend, not prescribe, a day of fasting and prayer. That is, that I should indirectly assume to the United States an authority over religious exercises which the Constitution has directly precluded them from. It must be meant, too, that this recommendation is to carry some authority and to be sanctioned by some penalty on those who disregard it; not indeed of fine and imprisonment, but of some degree of proscription perhaps in public opinion. And does the change in the nature of the penalty make the recommendation less a law of conduct for those to whom it is directed?... Civil powers alone have been given to the President of the United States, and no authority to direct the religious exercises of his constituents." --Thomas Jefferson to Samuel Miller, 1808. ME 11:428 I doubt very much if there is a prayer by Jefferson intended for public use.
> My mother has forwarded a copy of the prayer. It came out of a book of > poetry, I believe. You may want to include it in your fine website. Thank > you for responding to me. > > > Prayer for the Nation > > Almighty God, who has given us this good land for our heritage, we beseech > Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and > glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable industry, sound learning > and pure manners. > > Save us from violence, discord and confusion; from pride and arrogance and > from every evil way. Defend our liberties and fashion into one united people > the multitudes brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. > > Endow with the spirit of wisdom those to whom in Thy name we entrust the > authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and > that through obedience to Thy Law, we may show forth Thy praise among the > nations of the earth. > > In the time of prosperity, fill our hearts with thankfulness and in days of > trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail. > > Thomas Jefferson Thank you for sending this prayer to me. I regret to say, I do not think it was written by Thomas Jefferson. I could be wrong. It would help if there was an authentic source, such as a letter or document, with a date. I could not add it to my website without that kind of authentication. There are many quotations, etc., floating around that are attributed to Jefferson but were not actually written by him, most notably "That government is best that governs least.." Thank you for writing. If you are able to authenticate the prayer, I would appreciate it very much. If I run across it, I will let you know. But in my opinion, it is not Jefferson's style, and I doubt very seriously that it was written by him. Of course, I could be wrong, and it could be hidden in some obscure document somewhere, but I doubt that very seriously.
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