Thursday, May 7, 2009

1st President at Prayer

On this National Day of Prayer, I would like to share a story about the first president of the United States, George Washington.  Most scholars consider him to be one of the greatest. This story is told in the book, Our Country's Founders-A Book of Advice for Young People, edited, with commentary by William Bennett.
Washington's Prayer at Valley Forge, 1777
Franklin Delano Roosevelt observed that during the Revolutionary War, 'every winter was a Valley Forge. Throughout the thirteen states there existed selfish men, jealous men, fearful men who proclaimed that Washington's cause was hopeless and that he should ask for a negotiated peace.' Roosevelt observed that 'Washington's conduct in those hard times has provided the model for all Americans ever since-a model of moral stamina.' 
Prayer and faith sustained Washington through his many trials. Though some have disputed the accuracy of Washington biographer Mason Weems' depiction of Washington's praying at Valley Forge, many of Washington's fellow officers, such as Alexander Hamilton, reported that they often saw General Washington at prayer. Thus, I thought this was a wonderful account of inclusion. 
In the winter of '77, while Washington, with the American army lay encamped at Valley Forge, a certain good old friend, of the respectable family and name of Potts, had occasion to pass through the woods near headquarters. Treading his way along the grove, suddenly he heard the sound of a human voice, which as he advanced increased on his ear, and at length became like the voice of one speaking much in earnest. As he approached the spot with a cautious step, whom should he behold, in a dark natural bower of ancient oaks, but the commander-in-chief of the American armies on his knees at prayer! Motionless with surprise, friend Potts continued on the place till the general, having ended his devotions, arose and with a countenance of angel serenity, retired to headquarters: friend Potts then went home  and on entering his parlour called out to his wife, 'Sarah, my dear! Sarah! All's well! All's well! George Washington will yet prevail!'