In his sermon a week ago, the Rev. Ron Crawford said a few words about the upcoming election then tossed in this line: "Thank goodness," he told his parishioners, "it'll all be over Tuesday night."

On Sunday, the pastor of College Park Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., had to admit his all-but-certain prediction didn't come to pass, and he has a pretty good idea why.

"Just when you think you know something, God has a way of bringing you back to reality," he said.

In pulpits and pews around the nation Sunday, American churchgoers and clergy took an opportunity to consider the strange series of events unfolding in their public arena. For some, mulling the connection between the affairs of church and those of state seemed eminently appropriate.

"Anything that's touching so many lives, it's appropriate to mention it," said Kathy Olson, 48, attending services at Dundee Presbyterian Church in Omaha, Neb.

"Prayer for this situation is certainly needed," said the Rev. Marty Boller, pastor of the Father's House Vineyard Christian Fellowship in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Some ministers, like the Rev. Leonard Jackson of First African Methodist Episcopal Church, the oldest black congregation in Los Angeles, asked people to pray. Others alluded to the brouhaha indirectly.

"Several ladies were just in tears in the lobby and concerned for the vulnerability of our country," said the Rev. Don Burnett of the Bismarck Baptist Church in North Dakota. "We prayed as the scriptures have commanded us: Pray for those in authority over us."

Before morning services at First United Methodist Church in Phoenix, the election was still very much on people's minds. "We'd like to see it finished," Earl Weeks said. "We'd better go in and pray for everybody," he said as he and his wife, Janet, entered the sanctuary.

In Granby, Conn., the Rev. Clark Pfaff, pastor of Valley Brook Community Church, said American democracy suffered during the past week. "For years, we said we had the best system in the world," he said. "Now we realize it's not perfect — and it never can be, because we're human."

At the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, home of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Monsignor John J. Caulfield did not address the topic in his morning sermon. "I think it's the Lord's words that are important," he said afterward.

A Newsweek poll suggests Americans favor a fair and accurate outcome to simply a speedy one. The poll, conducted Thursday and Friday, showed 72 percent of those interviewed felt it was more important to make certain "all reasonable doubt" has been removed; 25 percent wanted it resolved as soon as possible.

The poll said 69 percent of Americans consider the uncertainty a sign of the American political system's strength, while 24 percent said it was a sign of weakness. The poll had a 4 percentage-point margin of error.

At the Lord of Lutheran Church in Bismarck, N.D., member Larry Kleingartner gave a prayer of thanks that there are "no riots in the street and no tanks in the street."

"We're thankful for our Founding Fathers, who gave us laws that we are going to follow and that laws will prevail and not chaos," he said.

Crawford, the Orlando minister, preached something appropriate for politics and religion alike: patience.

"These are interesting days," Crawford said. "And I'm going to argue for just allowing democracy to do its good work."