This is slightly adapted from President George Washington’s farewell address to the nation in 1796 and the first and second inaugural addresses to the nation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861 and 1865.

From the words of Washington, we pray that the unity of the government which constitutes us as one people be now and ever dear to us. It should be justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of our real independence, the support of our tranquility at home, our peace abroad; of our safety; of our prosperity; of that very liberty which we so highly prize. We are citizens, by birth or choice, of a common country. That country has a right to concentrate our affections. We pray that the name “American,” which belongs to us in our national capacity, may always exalt the just pride of patriotism more than any appellation derived from differences of political opinion.

From the words of Lincoln, we continue to pray: Regarding our political opponents in this country, help us to remember we are not enemies but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

Therefore, with malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as you, Lord, give us to see the right, let us strive to bind up the nation’s political wounds and do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

The Rev. Brad Jenson

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A version of this prayer was offered by the writer as an invocation at the Duluth Harbortown Rotary Club meeting on Feb. 17.

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