Prayers of Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin (17 January 1706 – 17 April 1790) was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. As a scientist, he was a major figure in the U.S. Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. As an inventor, he is known for the lightning rod, bifocals, and the Franklin stove, among other inventions. He facilitated many civic organizations, including Philadelphia’s fire department and a school.
We have collected some of the best prayers of Benjamin Franklin to use in request to God. May these prayers for safety bring you comfort and peace of mind. May these prayers for strength encourage your spirit and strengthen your faith.
As Governor, Franklin in 1748 proposed a day of fasting and prayer for Pennsylvania:
It is the duty of mankind on all suitable occasions to acknowledge their dependence on the Divine Being…[that] Almighty God would mercifully interpose and still the rage of war among the nations…[and that] He would take this province under His protection, confound the designs and defeat the attempts of its enemies, and unite our hearts and strengthen our hands in every undertaking that may be for the public good, and for our defense and security in this time of danger.
Here are some noteworthy excerpts from Franklin’s Autobiography:
I have been religiously educated as a Presbyterian; and … I was never without religious principles.I never doubted, for instance, the existence of the Deity; that he made the world, and governed it by his Providence; that the most acceptable service of God was the doing good to man; that our souls are immortal; and that all crime will be punished, and virtue reward, either here or hereafter.
These I esteemed the essentials of every religion; and, being to be found in all the religions we had in our country, I respected them all, though with different degrees of respect, as I found them more or less mixed with other articles, which without any tendency to inspire, promote, or confirm morality, served principally to divide us, and made us unfriendly on one another.
This respect of all…induced me to avoid all discourse that might tend to lessen the good opinion another might have of his own religion; and as our province increased in people, and new places of worship were continually wanted, and generally erected by voluntary contribution, my mite for such purpose, whatever might be the sect, was never refused.
Though I seldom attended any public worship, I had still an opinion of its propriety, and of its utility when rightly conducted, and I regularly paid my annual subscription for the support of the only Presbyterian minister or meeting we had in Philadelphia. He used to visit me sometimes as a friend, and admonish me to attend his administration.
In July of 1776, the Congress appointed Franklin to a committee charted to develop a seal for the new United States of America — a seal that would capture the spirit and character of the new nation. This is what Franklin proposed:
Moses lifting up his wand, and dividing the Red Sea, and Pharaoh in his chariot overwhelmed with the waters. This motto: ‘Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.’
Here’s what Franklin wrote in a letter dated March 1778 to the Ministry of France:
Whoever shall introduce into public affairs the principals of primitive Christianity will change the face of the world.
In addition, Franklin wrote:
A Bible and a newspaper in every house, a good school in every district — all studied and appreciated as they merit — are the principal support of virtue, morality, and civil liberty.
In a pamphlet titled Information to Those Who Would Remove to America, written for Europeans who were considering coming to America, Franklin made these observations:
Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only tolerated, but respected and practiced.Atheism is unknown there; infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with either an Atheist or an Infidel.
And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other; by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favor the whole country.
O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest.Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to Thy other children as the only return in my power for Thy continual favors to me.
I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessing on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning. – Benjamin Franklin
I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from Thomson’s “Poems,” viz.:
Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme!
O teach me what is good; teach me Thyself!
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,
From every low pursuit; and fill my soul
With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure;
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!
Constitutional Convention Address on Prayer
The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks close attendance & continual reasonings with each other — our different sentiments on almost every question, several of the last producing as many noes as ays, is methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.
In this situation of this Assembly groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings? In the beginning of the contest with G. Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the Divine Protection. — Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a Superintending providence in our favor. To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity. And have we now forgotten that powerful friend? Or do we imagine that we no longer need His assistance.
I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth — that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that “except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel: We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall be become a reproach and a bye word down to future age. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human Wisdom, and leave it to chance, war, and conquest.
I therefore beg leave to move — that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that service.
That there is one God, who made all things. That he governs the world by his providence. That he might be worshipped by adoration, prayer, and thanksgiving. But that the most acceptable service of God is doing good to Man. That the Soul is immortal. And that God will certainly reward virtue and punish vice, either here or hereafter. – Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin version of the Lord’s Prayer
B. Franklin’s Version of The Lord’s Prayer.
Heavenly Father, may all revere thee, and become thy dutiful Children and faithful Subjects; may thy Laws be obeyed on Earth as perfectly as they are in Heaven: Provide for us this Day as thou hast hitherto daily done: Forgive us our Trespasses, and enable us likewise to forgive those that offend us. Keep us out of Temptation, and deliver us from Evil.
|Old Version.||New Version, by BF.|
|1. Our Father which art in Heaven.||1. Heavenly Father,|
|2. Hallowed be thy Name.||2. May all revere thee,|
|3. Thy Kingdom come.||3. And become thy dutiful Children and faithful Subjects.|
|4. Thy Will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.||4. May thy Laws be obeyed on Earth as perfectly as they are in Heaven.|
|5. Give us this Day our daily Bread.||5. Provide for us this Day as thou has hitherto daily done.|
|6. Forgive us our Debts as we forgive our Debtors.||6. Forgive us our Trespasses, and enable us likewise to forgive those that offend us.|
|7. And lead us not into Temptation, but deliver us from Evil.||7. Keep us out of Temptation, and deliver us from Evil.|
Abridgement of the Book of Common Prayer (1773)
By Benjamin Franklin and Francis Dashwood
This proposed abridgment of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was prepared by Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and Sir Francis Dashwood (1708-1781). Franklin lived in London during the time of the publication of this revision. Most scholars agree that Franklin wrote the Preface, and that the abridgments of the services themselves are the responsibility of Dashwood.
A major characteristic of this prayer book is the brevity of its services. The service for Holy Communion, for example, is just 1601 words long, by comparison with the 7555 words of the same service in the 1662 BCP; it omits, among others, the Nicene Creed, Eucharistic Prayer and Proper Prefaces. Other services are also shortened considerably, with many repetitions removed, Psalms and Creed shortened, etc.. The Commination is replaced by a service for the First Day of Lent.
This private abridgment of the Book of Common Prayer is identified by David Griffiths as No. 1773:7 in The Bibliography of the Book of Common Prayer 1549-1999 (The British Library/Oak Knoll Press, 2002).
The Order for Morning Prayer, Daily throughout the Year
The Order for Evening Prayer, Daily throughout the Year
The Litany, or General Supplication
Prayers and Thanksgiving
The Epistles and Gospels, To Be Used throughout the Year
The Order for Administration of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion
The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony
The Ministration of Publick Baptism of Infants, to be used in the Church
The Order of Confirmation
The Order for the Visitation of the Sick
The Communion of the Sick
The Order for the Burial of the Dead
Thanksgiving of Women after Childbirth, commonly called, The Churching of Women
Certain Prayers to be used on the first Day of Lent, and at other Times, as the Ordinary shall appoint.
The Psalter, or Psalms of David. (abridged)