George A. Bowers Sr.: Now is the time to pray

George Bowers Sr.

George Bowers Sr.

“”>In January of 1776, Pastor Peter Muhlenberg gave his now famous sermon in the middle of Woodstock on Ecclesiastes 3, which declares a time for every purpose under heaven. At the end of that rousing message, he removed his clerical robe to reveal the uniform of a Revolutionary officer and declared, “There is a time to pray and a time to fight and now is a time to fight!”

Most folks in the valley are familiar with this heroic story of patriotism that motivated many of his parishioners to join his regiment. This event is depicted not only on Woodstock’s town seal, but is commemorated with statues in front of the old courthouse not far from the actual spot of the sermon’s delivery. We also know the victorious outcome for the Continental Army under Muhlenberg’s close personal friend, Gen. George Washington.

As we reflect on the 239 years since this historic sermon, we are very grateful for the growth, progress and advancement of our nation which is still the strongest and most influential in the world. There are signs, however, that our once mighty America is weakening and that which was planted during the late 1700s now seems to be coming uprooted.

How very sad it was to watch this past week as the city where our national anthem was penned went up in smoke. Baltimore’s skies were illuminated not by enemy rocket fire or Orioles fireworks, but by civil unrest and internal arson. Regardless of the underlying issues or what you attribute the unrest to, there is no doubt that the carnage is a blight on our land and indicates deep moral and spiritual problems.

Equally frightening is our national debt, which soars beyond conceivable limits threatening our financial foundations. Rampant drug use throughout our valley and across America triggers overdoses, thefts, murders, and suicides. Sex trafficking exploits many of our young women and our national leaders admit lying and remain unrepentant. ISIS terrorists threaten any security we now enjoy, and people of different skin colors view each other with hatred and suspicion. We could go on.

What is the solution to such widespread social, economic, and moral turmoil? Will a new president or Congress or Supreme Court justice set all to right? Hardly.  America needs God, and badly. If Muhlenberg were alive today, he would no doubt declare, “Now is the time to pray!”

The National Day of Prayer was established as an annual event by Congress in 1952 and was signed into law by President Truman. President Reagan amended the law designating the first Thursday of May each year as the National Day of Prayer. But days of national prayer are nothing new, for the Continental Congress first called for one in 1775, and Congress has done so many times since as have various presidents, including Abraham Lincoln.

This is not a political event sponsored by any party or a sectarian occasion promoted by any denomination, but a day to join together in prayer for our country. All Christians are invited to gather at noon at the Muhlenberg statues in Woodstock on May 7 to pray for America. We will pray for our various governments and leaders on each level as well as for our schools and churches, our courts and law enforcement officers, our poor and our rich, and everyone in between. We will ask for God’s mercy, guidance, and blessing on our nation.

Please spread the word in your church and bring a friend to Woodstock. For those who will be working at noon, Valley Pike Church of the Brethren on Route 11 near Maurertown will host a National Day of Prayer event at 7 p.m. and again, all are invited. If there was ever a time to pray for our nation, this is it. Please join in prayer on May 7.

Praying, George

George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at

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