Peter Marshall emigrated to the United States from Scotland at the age of 17. He came as a missionary when a member of the London Missionary Society spoke at his church asking for volunteers to come to America. 

At first, his time in the States was discouraging. He was dreaming of being a minister, but found himself working in unpleasant jobs doing manual labor. He dug ditches, built a golf course, and worked as a molder in a foundry. He became so discouraged that he thought about going back home to Scotland. Before he could, he received a letter from an old friend inviting him to move to Birmingham, Alabama. 

After some prayer, he moved to Birmingham, and while there, he became involved in serving at the Old First Presbyterian Church. He saved enough money to attend his first year at Columbia Seminary in Georgia. Three years later, he graduated at the age of 26. 

His first pastorate was a small church in Covington, Georgia, then later a Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, and later again another Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. While he was serving as the pastor there, he was offered the additional position of being the chaplain of the United States Senate. The duties of praying at the opening of senate meetings as well as advising senators, their families, and their staff would be in addition to his already demanding responsibilities as a pastor. 

But when Peter felt the Lord had called him to do something, he obeyed. He obeyed because he had faith when he heard from the Lord. He prayed about moving to the United States to become a missionary, he prayed about moving to Birmingham even when it seemed futile, he prayed about preaching in Atlanta where he was able to touch the hearts of many college students, he prayed about marrying his wife, he prayed about moving to Washington D.C., and he prayed about accepting the job as chaplain for the senate. 

Once he had prayed and received his answer, there was no stopping him. His wife once wrote about him, “He loved me; there was no doubt about that – but, he had been ‘tapped on the shoulder’ by the Chief. Therefore, he was the first, last, and always God’s man and his servant, at the beck and call of thousands of people.” 

He passed away unexpectedly at the age of 46. But his commitment to God, prayer, and this nation can continue to light a fire in hearts today. May we also be willing to respond to the “tap on the shoulder” of God’s call to pray, urgently and unceasingly, for our country. 


Chapman Billies Inc. The Senate Prayers of Peter Marshall 1997
Peter Marshall: Keeping the Dream