Moriah Bridges is a girl on fire for Jesus.
The high school senior’s faith is the driving force behind everything she does. So when it came time to deliver a speech at graduation, Moriah knew that she wanted to credit God and give Him the glory for the woman and graduate she’s become.
The Pennsylvania teen had planned on encouraging her graduating class in prayer — offering gratitude to God for His faithfulness and goodness throughout the high school career of her and her peers:
“Make us selfless. Make us just. Make us successful people, but more than that, make us good people. Lord, surround us with grace and favor everywhere we go. Soften our hearts to teach us love and compassion, to show mercy and grace to others the way that you showed mercy and grace to us, even to the ultimate sacrifice. Help us love our brothers and our sisters deeply. Lead us to bless them.”
To her disappointment, the school banned Moriah from integrating any form of religious beliefs into her graduation speech and even went as far as to say that such actions would be unlawful.
“I was shocked that the school said my personal remarks broke the law and I was saddened that I could not draw upon my Christian identity to express my best wishes for my classmates on what should’ve been the happiest day of high school,” she said.
But Moriah wasn’t intimidated. She stood firm in her faith and got to work — determined not to be silenced for her beliefs.
She enlisted the help of First Liberty Institute, a nonprofit law firm committed to protecting religious freedoms, to take on her case.
Respectfully, Moriah delivered her speech at graduation — not the original prayer she had hoped to pray, but something even better.
Bringing attention to the fact that she was unable to pray as she’d intended, Moriah dove into an encouraging word that had all signs pointing to Jesus.
She urged her classmates to put on a heart of gratitude.
“Let’s remember to be thankful for our immeasurable blessings,” she said proudly. “To have been born in a country where we’re granted quality education as if it were a right.”
Moriah went on to express gratitude for teachers, parents, mentors and family members — thanking them for their roles in each of the graduates’ lives and high school experiences.
She then took the prayer she had planned to pray and transformed it into a beautiful declaration which she spoke over her classmates.
“I hope that we’re surrounded with grace and favor everywhere we go,” she continues. “Let our hearts be soft to show true love and compassion, to show mercy and grace to others the way that mercy and grace were shown to us—even to the ultimate sacrifice. Let us love our brothers and our sisters deeply. Let us be a blessing to them. Let us be selfless. Let us be righteous. Let us be successful people. But more than that, let us be good people.”
Moriah concluded her speech with a tasteful hint of rebellion saying:
“I’ve always been a rule follower. When they said not to chew gum, I didn’t chew gum. When they said not to use your cellphone, I didn’t use my cellphone. But today, in the spirit of defying expectations, and for perhaps the last time at this podium, I say in the righteous name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”
All the praise for this brave young daughter of the most high. You are a shining example of what it means to stand firm in your faith.