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"God bless America, my home sweet home!"

"What in the world is that?" exclaimed my husband, Terry, making a quick path out to the front porch.

We had just moved into a summer rental house across the street from a sleepy park. But from the sounds of it, the park was not so sleepy! The gazebo was filled with band members and a rather buxom woman was at the microphone. She was belting out patriotic songs in a high soprano voice.

"That's Madeleine. She's practicing her usual 'God Bless America' and other patriotic songs for the 4th of July all-city picnic tomorrow," our neighbor Bill explained from his front porch.

"How nice," Terry and I replied in unison.

"Nice? That woman's voice can break glass! It's like nails on chalkboard!"

Bill had a point. The voice did grate on the nerves. Bill was plugging up his ears with two of his fingers. "This goes on year after year," he said and then quickly retreated into the silent confines of his house.

I shuddered—not at the singer's voice, but at Bill's words "year after year." It made me wonder if any of us could be certain how many years songs of God, country and freedom would be allowed to be performed publicly.

We live in one of the few countries where religious freedom is still the norm. But even so God is sometimes taken out of public ceremonies and celebrations. How much longer until songs like "God Bless America" are restricted completely?

"Lord," I prayed silently, "what's to become of us? What can I, but one citizen, do to help the cause of freedom?"

The still, small voice of the Lord answered my question with His Word: "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong" (1 Cor. 16:13, NKJV).

I also thought of my favorite Bible passage, the account of Peter—a man who was sent to prison for expressing his faith (see Acts 12). Peter's situation seemed hopeless. He was under the terrorism of four squads of soldiers, bound in chains and kept between two guards. However, all the while, "Constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church" (v. 5). The prayers of the people made a difference—Peter was miraculously set free!

Prayer is how we "stand fast in the faith." It is access to God's presence and power, so as believers in Christ, we must pray! And just as the believers prayed for Peter's freedom, we must keep offering "constant prayer" for our country's freedom.

This 4th of July, I challenge you to not only spend time celebrating with others, but to also make time to fellowship with our Lord, thanking Him for letting freedom ring—now and in the years to come.

When you celebrate July 4th this coming Sunday, thank the Lord that we are still able to enjoy the freedoms of religion, speech and the press in America. Thank Him for the men and women who gave their lives to preserve those freedoms and for the many who serve in every capacity to ensure our daily safety and security. Pray that God will once again be exalted in our nation. Remember those suffering the loss of loved ones, homes, jobs and finances through recent natural and man-made disasters. As we face a common spiritual enemy, continue to pray for revival, the persecuted church around the world, and the protection and preservation of Israel. 1 Cor. 16:13; Acts 12:5

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