Sermon Before the Georgia State Senate

Bible Book: Jeremiah  33 : 3
Subject: Prayer for Leadership; National Prayer
[Editor's Note: In 1993 I was privileged to speak before the opening session of the Georgia State Senate at the Capitol Building in Atlanta, Georgia. The message below is the one I delivered to the senators present that day. I believe the truth found here it is just as important today as it was a quarter of a century ago.]
Our Need for Prayer
Devotion before Georgia Senate
Dr. J. Mike Minnix

It is my distinct pleasure to address you today in this historic Senate Chamber. I want to thank Senator Joe Burton and the Secretary of the Senate for the kind invitation for me to speak and lead you in prayer today. I am honored to be present with Jayne, my sweet wife of 30 years.

Speaking before this august body today makes me feel a little like a boy over in Monroe, Georgia many years ago who fell into a barrel of molasses. He came up out of that barrel with molasses running over his lips and prayed thusly, "Lord, make my tongue worthy of this special occasion!"

I moved to Georgia almost three years ago, but there is Georgia blood on both sides of my family. My mother was born in Madison, Georgia, 65 years ago and my late father-in-law was born in Toccoa, Georgia, about 72 years ago. I feel like I have a little Georgia mud between my toes and Georgia blood in my veins.

I grew up in North Carolina, and I was privileged to have a praying father. He was a lineman for a power company and he often climbed 70' poles all day with a heavy work belt around his waist. He was stronger than any man I knew, not just because he was my father, but because of the hard work he did and the strength it had given him. Yet, my dad would bow down on his knees, with my mother, brother and with me alongside, and pray very softly to the Lord. His prayers were simply, not profound. At times he would rest one of his great arms over my shoulder. I can still remember him praying, "God, help me to be a good daddy to these boys, and a good husband to their mother. I am weak, Lord, but you are strong." It fascinated me to hear my father say that he was weak, because in my mind he was the strongest man in the world. Now that I am older, I understand. My dad was admitting his need for God. I wonder how many boys and girls never get to hear their daddy pray like that. I'll tell you one thing, it would change Georgia and America if dads and moms would learn to do that again.

One thing I never doubted when my daddy prayed was that he was talking to God. His prayers were not eloquent but they were penetrating. They were personal. We must always remind ourselves when we pray that we are addressing our Creator. Prayer, real prayer, is not wishing or hoping, it is conversation with God. One of my favorite stories concerns a prayer called for by the late President of the United States, Lyndon Johnson. At some meeting the President asked Bill Moyers to lead in prayer. Bill, being the quite spoken man that he was, bowed his head and began to speak softly in prayer. President Johnson, who was never known for good manners, interrupted and said, "Bill, speak up! I can't hear you." Bill kindly responded, "Mr. President, I wasn't talking to you." Indeed, talking to God is very important for a family, state or nation, but it also ought to be personal for an individual.

Our nation was birthed in prayer. When the Continental Congress was meeting and it appeared that the thirteen states could not agree on union, Benjamin Franklin called upon all the delegates to stop for prayer. They knelt in Philadelphia to pray and it is said that union was achieved and America was born within hours after that call for prayer. I have often wondered when I read that story again and again, what might have happened to us as a nation if the leaders had been unwilling to pray.

President George Washington was a man of prayer and history records that he spent no less than 30 minutes a day in prayer, every day - before and after his election.

Heaven knows we need help from above during these days. With educational scores declining, economic pressures rising, drug use expanding, home life crumbling, personal integrity failing, serious crime skyrocketing, racial tensions building, nuclear war threatening, and other problems as well, that we need more help than mere men and women can provide. There is help available, if we have the humility and faith to seek it.

In Jeremiah 33:3 we find these words, "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

I don't mean to say that all we have to do is pray and God will take care of everything. That is not so - never has been so! Prayer simply allows God to show us the correct way, and when we do not pray we struggle alone without results. When we do pray we struggle with God’s help and that leads to success. So we have a choice. we can fail to pray and pay a high price for bread we will never eat, or we can pray and pay a high price as well, but with God's help we will eat our bread buttered on both sides!

Those of you in this chamber today are great leaders. People have elected you because they believe in you, but you know you do not have all the answers to the problems in this State. I pastor a church of more than 2,000 members, the great First Baptist Church of Lilburn, which our members call THE CHURCH THAT LOVES! I have decades of pastoral experience experience and I have studied in college and seminary to better myself at what I do. But I admit to my church that without the help of God, I cannot lead them correctly. You are smart, intelligent people, but you are not smart enough in yourselves to solve the dilemmas we face. You are committed to what you are doing, but commitment is not enough. Like my dad, your strength is just not enough. May God help us to pray daily for His direction, His will, His strength, His wisdom, and His help, that we may not fail the generation in which he has given us places of leadership.

Let us pray. Father, I am reminded today of the words of the disciples of Jesus who said to Him one day, "Lord, teach us to pray." We come to ask you to teach us to pray. We don't need as much help knowing how to pray as we need help just knowing how much we need to pray. We know that our words do not impress you, but our humble hearts and our submissive will is what you seek. I thank you that this body opens each session with prayer. I ask, Lord, that this prayer not just be a form or habit, but that it express the depth of the need we have to hear from you a word telling us which way to go. Thank you for these Senators and their staffs. Bless them Lord in their sacred duty. Help them to know that they have been called to office as much as any pastor in this state has been called to his church. Help us all to remember that you said, "To whom much is given, much is required." Help us to be faithful to our sacred trust. Thank you for loving us, even when we do not deserve it and showing it by giving your Son to die for our sins at Calvary. In His name I pray, Amen.