I'm delighted to be with you this morning, to celebrate the power of prayer -- especially as we mark our passage into Arizona's Second Century.
After all, it was prayer that started Arizona's journey from territory to state -- 100 years ago.
The Rev. Seaborn Crutchfield gave the opening prayer at the Constitutional Convention, saying "As King Solomon prayed for guidance to wisely rule a great people, so we ask Thee to direct us in the adoption of a wise and just Constitution."
And, the preamble to the Arizona Constitution that emerged from that convention proclaims, "We the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution."
Yes, prayer has defined our state -- from the very beginning. That's why I've proudly issued proclamations declaring "Arizona Days of Prayer."
But, some people didn't like that.
In March of 2010, an out-of-state group filed suit to have the proclamations declared unconstitutional.
Well, I was not about to back down. Public calls to prayer -- dating to the days of George Washington -- invite Americans
of every race -- background -- and creed -- to come together -- voluntarily -- to pray for guidance, wisdom and courage. The lawsuit to stop prayer proclamations was nothing more than an attempt to stifle a fundamental American freedom.
But, this past December, the U.S. District Court threw out the baseless lawsuit -- seeing it for what it was -- a futile attempt
to silence an American right. They've re-filed in state Court -- and we'll vigorously defend against this frivolous lawsuit again.
Those who created our country understood there is a divine hand which has molded this nation and its love of liberty.
From James Madison -- to John Jay -- to George Washington -- it was understood that it is God from whom all blessings
We celebrated Easter just four days ago.
So, let me share with you one of my favorite Bible passages -- the one about the two travelers on the road to Emmaus. They were approached by a stranger -- probably with dusty sandals, and common clothes. They did not recognize him -- even when he asked what they had been talking about before he arrived.
They were surprised the stranger did not know about the recent events in Jerusalem, so they told him about Jesus of Nazareth -- who had been sentenced to death, and then crucified.
The travelers said it was the third day since the crucifixion -- and they had hoped Jesus was the one who was going to redeem Israel.
But, the stranger told the travelers that they should not give up their beliefs. He explained what was foretold in the Scriptures -- that Christ had to suffer before entering his glory.
When the travelers approached a village, they invited the stranger to join them for dinner. It was not until he was at the
table -- when he took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to them -- did they recognize ... Jesus.
And, then ... he vanished.
I like this story because we'd all like to think we'd recognize the stranger walking beside us, the man with dusty sandals and common clothes.
But, how many times have we missed Him? How many times, have we walked right by the stranger -- without really paying attention.
Because we should pay attention -- I've challenged every Arizonan to make a personal statement this Centennial Year -- by lending a hand where help is needed -- to volunteer at a local school -- volunteer in service at a place of worship -- volunteer at shelters, at food banks.
I've asked all of Arizona to reach out to the least and the lost. That's how we can serve the stranger beside us.
I want to thank each of you for being a part of that caring -- and for keeping the spiritual message that God has placed in our hearts.
May that message strengthen and preserve you and your families and the great state of Arizona.
... May we all recognize that special Stranger ... as we journey on our own roads to Emmaus.
... And may God keep you always, and may you always keep God.