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Legal

CWA Prepares for the Supreme Court

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Fresh off our brief in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) legal team is already working on our next amicus (friend of the court) brief to be submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.  This week, the Court said it would hear arguments in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra.  This is an important pro-life, First Amendment case where it is crucial that the voices of conservative women are well represented. Rest assured, CWA will answer the call and represent your voice before the Court.

Our involvement will be especially sweet for our leadership team in California.  CWA of California fought long and hard against the vicious law that is being challenged in this case.

California’s Reproductive FACT Act (AB 775) was specifically designed to curtail pro-life clinics’ effectiveness by requiring them promote abortion services.  Unfortunately, our efforts were not well received in such a liberal state, and the law was passed.

Under this law, pro-life clinics must post printed notices in several languages urging women to contact state facilities where they can get a free or low-cost abortion.  The notice must read: “California has public programs that provide immediate free or low-cost access to comprehensive family planning services (including all FDA-approved methods of contraception), prenatal care, and abortion for eligible women. To determine whether you qualify, contact the county social services office at [insert the telephone number].”

It also asked unlicensed pregnancy centers to put up large signs saying: “This facility is not licensed as a medical facility by the State of California and has no licensed medical provider who provides or directly supervises the provision of services.”

Thankfully, the National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA), a network of pregnancy resource centers, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), challenged the law’s unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment.

Both the district court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California denied NIFLA’s motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the implementation of the law.  Now, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, and we hope the Justices will reverse the lower court’s decisions and protect the constitutional rights of pro-life clinics.

As you probably notice, in this case, the law seeks to both restrict speech and force unwanted speech, under threat of considerable fines. Even more dangerous is the fact that it is all motivated by a specific ideology — by the content of the speech.  The purpose is to discredit pro-life views and elevate abortion as a legitimate form of family planning.

The engagement of government in such pernicious manipulation of political and cultural debates through the violation of the constitutional rights of its citizens under threat of law is not only shameful and dangerous, but it is simply unconstitutional. Whatever your views on abortion, we should all agree that the government should not harrass its citizens in this way.

Please pray for your legal team here in Washington, D.C., as we prepare to represent your voice before the Court.

Victory for Children, Families, CWA, the Pro-Life Community and Our Nation

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The Adoption Tax Credit is saved! We told you recently about some rumblings at the Capitol where some congressmen were considering dropping this important adoption incentive.  As Penny Nance, our CEO & President, told Axios, we immediately went to “work to clean up the mistake” and that is precisely what we did.

Concerned Women for America’s (CWA) legislative team reached out to members and commenced working behind the scenes. We are thankful to the thousands of you who also followed through with phone calls and emails and social media outreach so that members understood how important this issue was to conservative women.

We are happy to report now that Congress acted quickly and decisively to respond to our request. We are thankful to many of our pro-life friends who took leadership on the issue and made it happen.  Please call your senators and representatives and thank them for keeping the adoption tax credit.

Of course, we are most thankful for the children and those involved with the beautiful process of adoption.  This tax credit actually saves lives. JT Olson, Executive Director of Both Hands, a wonderful adoption ministry that helps families overcome the financial burdens of adoption, told me about the practical implications of the tax credit:

The Adoption Tax credit is the great equalizer in the adoption world. Adoption is so expensive, and the “tax credit” is the only way a middle-to-lower class family can swing it. Most families can easily graft one more child into their routine, but the initial cost of adopting makes it almost impossible. Having a baby is just as expensive as adopting. The only difference is insurance pays for most of the costs of having a baby.

JT’s own miraculous life, captured in his book, “The Orphan, the Widow & Me,” gives him an inside understanding of the process that is second to none.  After being orphaned as a child, alongside his four siblings, God has used him to touch many through his life and ministry.

He exemplifies why CWA and the pro-life community rallied together as soon as we became aware of this issue. Adoption represents the best of America—the best of humanity.

As Christians, we understand the power of adoption through the Father’s eternal love for us and it is precisely that loving message that we want to share with the world.

In every way imaginable, this is great news. Here is the way Penny put it:

We are thankful to see that, as of today, the Adoption Tax Credit is back! Thank you to Chairman Brady and House Leadership for listening to the voice of the people and reinstating the adoption tax credit in the amended Tax Cuts and Job Act.

Overhauling our tax system is a huge undertaking but it’s important that we work to get it right for American families and this is a huge step in the right direction.

The Adoption Tax Credit is crucial for adoptive families who make significant financial sacrifices for their children. The substantial upfront cost of adopting a child should never be the reason why a family has to forgo adoption. Restoring the Adoption Tax Credit is integral to ensuring that tax reform is pro-family.

Trump, Senate Laying a Strong Foundation for the Third Branch

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Recent nominee Allison Hartwell Eid, now a United States Circuit Judge for the Tenth Circuit.

Although you may be frustrated with the U.S. Senate’s work in other areas, on judicial nominations they are working hard and achieving much progress under the leadership of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) and Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).

Five judicial nominees in four days last week is no small feat, given that Democrats are doing anything and everything they can to obstruct nominees, no matter their record.

I wrote to you about the shameful anti-Christian attacks on Judge Amy Barrett who was nominated to the Seventh Circuit.  But they have tried to obstruct all nominees, for whatever reason and no reason. Their strategy is to just stall.

In the past, when non-controversial nominees (which is the majority of them) came before the Senate, it was an amicable process that went fairly quickly.  But Democrats, having destroyed the judicial filibuster under Harry Reid so that they can’t stop nominees from being confirmed, are using every procedural hurdle they can in order to stall even nominees they support.

Democrats are forcing cloture votes, which require 30 additional hours, for nominees they strongly support. They even required it for an Obama nominee. Scott Palk was first nominated by President Barack Obama and re-nominated by President Trump to the Western District of Oklahoma. He was ultimately confirmed with overwhelming support, but only after these unnecessary procedural hurdles where cleared. Democrats have required cloture vote for all 13 judicial nominees confirmed so far this year.

In a recent op-ed, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) gave a sense of the unprecedented nature of the obstruction:

At this point in President Barack Obama’s first year, when Republicans were in the minority, the Senate took cloture votes on fewer than 1 percent of the executive and judicial branch nominees we confirmed. This year, with Democrats in the minority playing confirmation spoiler, the Senate has been forced to take cloture votes on more than 27 percent of the nominees we confirmed. In fact, including those we will take this week, Democrats have forced us to take 51 cloture votes on President Trump’s nominees so far this year. That is seven times as many as during the combined first years of all nine presidents since the cloture rule has applied to nominations.

Even though he included the numbers for all nominees, not just judges, you can see what the majority is facing when trying to move on President Trump’s nominees.  So, it is to their great credit that they have not backed down, instead pushing through with increasing resolve, leading to that admirable effort last week in confirming Amy Barrett, as we mentioned, alongside Joan Larsen to the Sixth Circuit, Allison Eid to the Tenth, and Stephanos Bibas to the Third.

These are all well-qualified nominees who will lay a strong foundation for our judiciary for many years to come.  And many more still await Senate action (49 to be exact), among them: Kyle Duncan, Don Willet, and David Stras — all solid constitutionalists who understand their role as judges.

They are also desperately needed. The number of vacancies under President Trump continues to climb and stands now at 145 (compared to 108 when he started).

Concerned Women for America (CWA) has been working tirelessly with the White House and the Senate to obtain the positive results we have so far, and we will continue to push for even more progress in this area.

We have an incredible opportunity for positive change in an area that has been, unfortunately, dominated for decades by a liberal ideology that has been disastrous to our nation.  Many of the divisions we so lament today are not the creation of the political divide, as we are prone to believe, but of judicial malpractice — the imposition of personal preference under the guise of constitutional requirement.

CWA is committed to changing that, and we are pleased to see the exceptional leadership of the president and Senate leadership in this area.  Let us continue to lift them up in prayer and stay engaged in the process.  There is much work ahead.

Dogma Lives On, For Now

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It’s a big win for religious liberty and Concerned Women for America (CWA) this week, as the U.S. Senate confirmed by a vote of 55-43 Prof. Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. A big “thank you” to all of our CWA members who made their voices heard on this important nomination.

I hope you got to see our CEO and President, Penny Nance, as she stood up strongly against the shameful religious test that several liberal senators used to evaluate Judge Barrett.  It will forever be a stain on their records.

“I’d like to thank Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Chairman Chuck Grassley for their leadership in following through on the American people’s eagerness for constitutionalist judges who respect and embrace their role as judges and not legislators.
 

“Let me also say, “Thank you,” to all the senators standing here today in support of Professor Amy Coney Barrett. In standing for her, you stand for women of faith who are routinely mocked and derided for our beliefs.

 

“As the CEO and President of Concerned Women for America, the largest public policy organization for women in the nation, I am honored to support Professor Barrett as a more-than-qualified candidate for the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Professor Barrett is unquestionably qualified for this appointment. She graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa at Rhodes College and summa cum laude from Notre Dame Law School. She has held distinguished clerkships at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals and later for Justice Scalia at the Supreme Court. Later, she became an accomplished attorney in private practice and a celebrated law professor. No one questions her professional and academic credentials.

 

“I was disappointed to see in her confirmation hearing the inappropriate questioning of her faith. This Christian “dogma” that a few find appalling embodies the best of humanity. It calls us to love others as we do ourselves, to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and attend to the widow and orphan and those in prison. It teaches us to be truthful, honorable, and content. It teaches us to respect governmental authorities and, yes, it teaches judges to be impartial and to love justice.

 

“These character traits should be celebrated in any judicial nominee – religious or not.  For any senator who chooses to vote against Professor Barrett based on her religious beliefs, I would suggest that you can do that, but it says more about your fitness for office than it does hers.

 

“Democrats should support Prof. Barrett and confirm her with their most sincere apologies. Thank you.”

This is an important point for us to remember.  Despite this important victory, the battle for religious liberty in nominations for public service is not over.  Judge Barrett was confirmed despite the religious test used, but the test was actually imposed.  Those senators who derided Judge Barret because the “dogma lived loudly within her” because of her Catholic faith, or who condemned her for speaking to the Alliance Defending Freedom indeed voted against her.  This is disturbing and dangerous.

I am sure every senator would deny using a religious test, but we can’t ignore the facts before us.

I’ve written to you before about Sen. Bernie Sanders’ recent use of a religious test against Russell T. Vought’s nomination to be the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.  He is still awaiting confirmation. This is a troubling pattern among radical liberals that we must continue to decry.

The Constitution is clear.  Article 6, section 3, expressly states that “no religious test shall ever be” applied as a condition for public service in the United States. But as we have seen throughout several years, a subversive hostility towards the Constitution and the whole founding of our nation is what drives these efforts.

Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) put the issue in its broader context at the press conference, “It is one of the grand issues of our day that amazingly enough is unresolved,” he said, “Can you have a faith in America and live it?”

 

We must not be naïve in ignoring that it is this sort of sentiment that has driven some of the criticism of media rumors that CWA President Penny Nance was being considered for an ambassadorship.  Just as it was the pro-life issue that got Judge Barrett in trouble, because of her Catholic faith, it is also this issue, alongside others Penny holds because of her Christian faith, that makes her unpalatable to the left.

The implications are the same.  The radical left wants any serious Christian barred from public office.  You can surely call yourself a Christian, as long as you don’t really believe in the teachings of your faith.

If there are any indications you are actually sincere in your faith and wrestle with the important issues it addresses and how they play out in real life, as Amy Barret did, and as Penny does on a daily basis, you are treated with deep contempt.

As Christians, we wear that contempt as a badge of honor, and as Americans, we must rise up against it as the unconstitutional actions they are and the threat to liberty they represent.  All Americans, religious or not, should unite against this.

BREAKING: Religious Liberty Flourishes; Sky Does Not Fall

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In case you haven’t heard, the Little Sisters of the Poor are now free to “offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself.” I know, “horrible.” They should have been punished with thousands of dollars in fines, fighting them all the way to the Supreme Court. But, you know, “Trump. Ugh!”

Although, when you think about it, the “parade of horribles” that liberal commentators predicted hasn’t really happened.  As it turns out, nuns who take a vow of celibacy don’t need much contraception after all. Who knew?

Come to think of it, the Hobby Lobby decision was handed down back in 2014.  Where are all the evil corporations availing themselves of “religious liberty” to oppress women? They told us they would come by the thousands, no?

I am beginning to suspect that when religious liberty flourishes, the sky doesn’t fall.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently released the religious liberty guidelines President Trump had requested.  They, too, seem to increase liberty for all.

“Religious liberty is a foundational principle of enduring importance in America, enshrined in our Constitution and other sources of federal law,” he wrote. “Religious liberty is not merely a right to personal religious beliefs or even to worship in a sacred place. It also encompasses religious observance and practice. Except in the narrowest circumstances, no one should be forced to choose between living out his or her faith and complying with the law.”

That seems reasonable. He advises, “[T]o the greatest extent practicable and permitted by law, religious observance and practice should be reasonably accommodated in all government activity, including employment, contracting, and programming.”  Well, if the government would have applied this to the Little Sisters of the Poor, things would have gone more smoothly.

Sessions gave 20 principles by which the government should abide:

  1. The freedom of religion is a fundamental right of paramount importance, expressly protected by federal law.
  2. The free exercise of religion includes the right to act or abstain from action in accordance with one’s religious beliefs.
  3. The freedom of religion extends to persons and organizations.
  4. Americans do not give up their freedom of religion by participating in the marketplace, partaking of the public square, or interacting with government.
  5. Government may not restrict acts or abstentions because of the beliefs they display.
  6. Government may not target religious individuals or entities for special disabilities based on their religion.
  7. Government may not target religious individuals or entities through discriminatory enforcement of neutral, generally applicable laws.
  8. Government may not officially favor or disfavor particular religious groups.
  9. Government may not interfere with the autonomy of a religious organization.
  10. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening any aspect of religious observance or practice, unless imposition of that burden on a particular religious adherent satisfies strict scrutiny.
  11. RFRA’s protection extends not just to individuals, but also to organizations, associations, and at least some for-profit corporations.
  12. RFRA does not permit the federal government to second-guess the reasonableness of a religious belief.
  13. A governmental action substantially burdens an exercise of religion under RFRA if it bans an aspect of an adherent’s religious observance or practice, compels an act inconsistent with that observance or practice, or substantially pressures the adherent to modify such observance or practice.
  14. The strict scrutiny standard applicable to RFRA is exceptionally demanding.
  15. RFRA applies even where a religious adherent seeks an exemption from a legal obligation requiring the adherent to confer benefits on third parties.
  16. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, prohibits covered employers from discriminating against individuals on the basis of their religion.
  17. Title VII’s protection extends to discrimination on the basis of religious observance or practice as well as belief, unless the employer cannot reasonably accommodate such observance or practice without undue hardship on the business.
  18. The Clinton Guidelines on Religious Exercise and Religious Expression in the Federal Workplace provide useful examples for private employers of reasonable accommodations for religious observance and practice in the workplace.
  19. Religious employers are entitled to employ only persons whose beliefs and conduct are consistent with the employers’ religious precepts.
  20. As a general matter, the federal government may not condition receipt of a federal grant or contract on the effective relinquishment of a religious organization’s hiring exemptions or attributes of its religious character.

All seem reasonable.  Maybe James Madison was right when he insisted that “all men are entitled to the full and free exercise” of religion, as he considered the Declaration of Rights for the Commonwealth of Virginia a decade or so before the First Amendment to the Constitution.

It seems that religious liberty is still liberty; protecting religious freedom, protects freedom.

I know, mind-blowing.

For America (Day 84)

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foramericaprayerjournal

Gracious Father,
How glorious are your works!
The colors of the sky are such a wonderful
Reflection of Your mighty deeds.

There is none like You.
This we know to be true and good.
From sunset to sundown, may Your name
Be praised in all the Earth.

We give You thanks for, even in the midst of tragedy,
We can do all things through Your Son,
Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
It is through Him that we rise up and go to sleep.

Lack of resources are no problem at all;
From our lack of trust deliver us.
Respect and honor we do not seek for ourselves;
Let Your name be lifted high, this is our aim.

Help us to walk in the power of Your Spirit.
Help us to speak light-shining truth and
To stand against evil; help us to care—
Care for those who are most vulnerable.

Forgive us our trespasses and help us to walk
Worthy of the calling which You have given us.
These are difficult times; we acknowledge that.
But we will stand firm on Your Word, no matter the difficulties.

Help us to withstand the enemy’s attacks
And guide us in all goodness, honor and purity.
Refine us in love and Your excellence.
Help us to worship You in spirit and truth.

Unite us in brotherly love,
Help us see our neighbors’ need and
Move our hearts with compassion
As Yours is moved time and again.

These things we pray,
With thanksgiving and faith,
In Jesus’ Holy Name,
Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

For America (Day 83)

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foramericaprayerjournal

Oh Lord, behold our affliction
For the suffering of our people.
What sorrow afflicts us at the sight
Of what is happening in our country.

We groan for the victimized and terrorized
At the hands of evil, unscrupulous men.
Who hate the truth and the light
And seek to extinguish our spirit.

That they shall fail is a fact;
This much we know, because we trust in You.
But how we grieve for the mothers and fathers,
Brothers and sisters, friends and loved ones lost.

And this division — this despicable division that infects us!
It won’t even let us grieve properly.
It corrodes everything it touches;
And it threatens to touch everything, no matter how far we run.

But we run to You, oh Lord,
Our hope and salvation,
Our strength and refuge.
Who can stand in Your holy presence?

He who has clean hands and pure heart, Your Word says.
Therefore, we repent, our Savior and King.
We repent of our sins — of our apathy.
Search our hearts and clean us — this we pray.

For our many transgressions, we weep.
Our eyes flow with tears at the sight of what we’ve become,
Even as we know right from wrong.
In full knowledge, we’ve turned from You.

Now our sadness consumes us.
Our enemies rejoice at the sight of our distress.
All that we have, we cannot enjoy,
For we have sought it apart from You.

But there is hope for those who seek after You,
For Your mercies are new every morning.
Your grace covers a multitude of transgressions,
And Your love, Your love can heal us.

Your love is the bond of perfection —
In this love, we can stand united.
In this love, we are secure and
Can rediscover our purpose and essence.

We were created for Your glory;
Only in You is there joy and peace;
We were created in Your image,
And we are to reflect your light throughout the world.

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

For America (Day 82)

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foramericaprayerjournal
We come running to You, oh Lord.
Turning our eyes from the distress around us,
We focus on You alone,
The Author and Sustainer of our faith.

In You only, there is peace —
That peace that surpasses understanding.
Your peace You offer to us;
How marvelous are Your ways!

We know this is the work
Of the Helper You have given us;
Your Holy Spirit
Within us.

Let it move with power in our land.
Let it reign in our hearts and minds.
Let it transform many hearts,
Renewing the minds of our young people.

Give them ears to hear, Lord.
Turn their hearts towards You.
Give them wisdom beyond their years,
Let them keep Your commandments.

Enable them to honor their mothers and fathers;
To love their neighbors as themselves;
To keep themselves pure,
Ignoring the spirits of this age.

Above all, let them love You
With all their hearts, minds, souls, and strength.
Help them honor Your Word
And revere Your statutes.

Help us rebuild Your church in America, Holy Father.
We seem powerless, having lost our focus.
Turn us back to You;
Give us boldness and commitment to Truth.

Help us love; teach us to love.
We know not what we do.
Like sheep without a Shepherd,
We go from here to there … without end.

And the hurt …
The thirst, depression, and rage consume us.
The cancer of secularism has spread.
We are dead. Spiritually dead.

But praise Your name, we are whom You came to save!
The lost, the strayed, the sick, the dead.
In You we are found, healed, forgiven;
Yes, even resurrected, by the blood of the Lamb Who was slain.

For this Great Awakening, we continue to pray.
For Truth to spread — eyes opened, beauty displayed.
Grant us our request, if You will, Lord Jesus.
In Your Name we pray, Amen.

Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

For America (Day 81)

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foramericaprayerjournal
All-loving God, Creator, Savior,
You are our safety and refuge.
Provider, Sustainer, All-forgiving Father,
We lay all our anxieties before You.

With a thankful heart, conscious
That all is a gift from You,
We come with sincere supplications
And prayers for our people.

Our undeserved blessings are always before us.
Each day, the sun and air, the stars and rain
Proclaim Your mercies anew,
And we are reminded of our dependent state.

Thank You.
Thank You for a minute of peace,
For silence to think and dream.
Thank You for laughter and consolation.

Thank You for friendships and
Family, and colleagues,
Leaders, and talented artists.
Thank You for music.

Thank You for the universe —
The wonder and mystery of it all.
Thank You for this place we call “Earth” —
And for the United States.

Thank You for freedom and liberty.
Thank You for the blessing of community.
Thank You for language and our limited understanding.
Thank You for the blessing of work.

We thank You for those who serve
Unselfishly to protect our freedoms
Around the world. Putting their lives on the line,
Allowing the Great Commission to spread.

We pray Your protection on them,
Your blessings upon their families.
Help us to be sensitive to their needs,
And quick to give sacrificially to their aid.

We pray for wisdom for our leaders:
For the president, vice-president,
Heads of departments, security and intelligent officials;
We pray for our judges.

We ask most earnestly for a Great Awakening.
Let Your Word rule every heart, house, town, and state.
Let Your songs spread through the air
In the land of the free, the home of the brave.

Amen.


Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.

For America (Day 80)

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foramericaprayerjournal

Father and Lord,
All glory unto You, the Merciful One.
If it had not been for You, the Sovereign One,
We would have perished long ago.

How many have risen against us!
And each time, You’ve seen us through,
Not by the merits of our actions,
But to the glory of Your holy name.

We would have been swallowed up,
By enemies in war or catastrophe in peace.
Yet You alone have kept us whole,
And we praise You for Your bountiful grace.

We bring before You, Lord, today a special kind of request —
A prayer for unity in the middle of much distress.
We pray for our divided states, hearts, and minds.
Humility has escaped us, Lord; wisdom is scarce.

To whom shall we turn?
None can deliver. None but You.
We praise You and give You thanks,
For You have not given us over to ourselves just yet.

A remnant remains: praying, sharing, loving, fighting …
Pleading with You to intervene
In our hearts and in our land.
Our hope is in You.

Those who hope in You will not be put to shame,
This we know firsthand. Forgive us when we fail
To remember all You’ve done and
The glorious promises of Your Word.

Unite us in Your truth, Lord.
Unite us in life and love.
Lift the blinders from our eyes, and
Help us see clearly once again.

Your Word reminds us that,
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,
So You surround Your people.
We are Your people; in this, we are comforted.

To You we lift our eyes,
In thoughts of You, we are still and wait.
Let Your glory and Your righteous judgment
Be seen by all, on Earth as in Heaven,

Amen.

Click here for more prayers from our For America Prayer Journal.