Psalm 123:1-2 “Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

What should be on our prayer list during this week of July 4th?  The Psalmist, long before the formation of our country, provides the right posture for moments such as this. A beautiful analogy is used to indicate the psalmist’s watchfulness in prayer. Middle-eastern servants were accustomed to sit in the corner of a room with their hands folded in their laps, watching the eyes of their masters and waiting for the slightest indication that the master desired their services. The psalmist has cast his eyes upon God; and he is looking steadfastly into the heavens, seeking to do the bidding of his merciful Master.

Despite our American privileges and liberties, we still need God.  Regular, frequent prayer reminds us of that reality and protects us from autonomous entitlement.  Our proneness to misuse our liberties requires the mercy of God.  Mercy that is only available when we lift our eyes to the one that dwells in the heavens.  May I caution my patriotic brethren to celebrate the birth of our blessed nation but to do so with a fresh, anointed sense of humble dependence.  Spend less time at the family picnic and church service praising our “great nation and visionary forefathers” and more time begging God for mercy and direction for our sin-riddled land.

Where we look and to whom we look with our liberty is everything!  To look up makes it about God.  To look around makes it about others.  And to look within makes is about us.  Which leads us to the sobering trends in the land we love…

“Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers, and our Country.”  The twenty-two word prayer was declared to be unconstitutional and led to the removal of all prayer from public schools in the case Engel v. Vitale. This little prayer acknowledges God only one time. The Declaration of Independence itself acknowledges God four times.  Within 12 months of Engel v. Vitale, in two more cases called Abington v. Schempp and Murray v. Curlett, the court had completely removed Bible reading, religious classes/instruction. This was a radical reversal of law – and all without precedental justification or Constitutional basis. The Court’s justification for removing Bible reading from public schools. The Court at this time declared that only 3% of the nation professed no belief in religion, no belief in God. Although this prayer was consistent with 97% of the beliefs of the people of the United States, the Court decided for the 3% against the majority.

As we celebrate July 4th in a country that tends to forget its enabled history, may we never forget that our “independence” as a nation, families, and individuals has only been secured by and will only be sustained by PRAYERFUL DEPENDENCE upon God.

Here are some uplifting, challenging lyrics from the hymn “We Look to You” to not only sing but pray in focus upon the Lord of ultimate liberty that transcends our immediate, American context:

Deliver us from evil, Lord
We sojourn in a broken world
Though evil hands give rise to war
Remind us this is not our home

Deliver us from evil, Lord
Our hearts so quickly run astray
Temptation crouching at the door
To turn us from the narrow way

Deliver us from evil, Lord
The devil’s seeking to devour
With trembling hearts, we hear his roar
But Your strong arm will crush his pow’r

We look to You, we look to You
Come and end his earthly reign
We look to You, we look to You
Lord, deliver us, we pray

As you look up to “the heavens” to observe fireworks filling the night’s sky this week, don’t forget the God above it all who continues to rain down upon our undeserving land His mercy.  And instead of just partying the night away, get on your knees and pray toward the God to whom we depend for every precious nuance of liberty!