Matthew 6:6 “When you pray, go into your room, shut your door, pray to your Father in the secret place.”
Monday, February 22 was our annual federal holiday “Presidents’ Day”, where we as a nation honor all our US Presidents. Did you know President’s Day is intentionally chosen as George Washington’s birthday?
Washington, born 289 years ago on February 22, 1732, consistently ranks #1 or #2 with Abraham Lincoln as America’s greatest President, and for very good reasons: 1) he led the Continental Army to victory over Great Britain in America’s War for Independence (1775-1783), 2) he presided over the Constitutional Convention of 1787, 3) he was our first president (1787-1797), and 4) he began Thanksgiving Day in 1789 to nationally give thanks for “the Almighty’s care of Americans both during and after the Revolution”.
As an Episcopalian, he was a fervent follower of Christ in his daily life. Jared Sparks (1789-1866), America’s first college professor of history and a president of Harvard, wrote 12 volumes on Washington. In Volume X11, he spoke on his faith: “To say George Washington was not a Christian would be to impeach his sincerity and honesty.” His correspondence with Nelly Custis-Lewis provides the strongest evidence.
Nelly was the adopted daughter of George and Martha Washington who lived with them for 20 years (1779-1799) until she herself married. She was 10 years old when he became President, never leaving his company and even travelling with him. She knew intimately the private and public life of Washington.
Sparks wrote to her and asked her directly if she knew if he was a Christian. Here’s her response: “It was his custom to retire to his library at 9 or 10 pm where he remained an hour before going to bed. He always rose before the sun and remained in his library until called to breakfast. I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, ‘that they may be seen of me’ [Matthew 6:5]. He communed with his God in secret [Matthew 6:6].”
William White, in ‘Washington Writings’, adds more: “In 1827, Mr. Robert Lewis, Washington’s nephew and private secretary during the part of his presidency, lived with him and observed his habits. Mr. Lewis said he accidentally witnessed his private devotions in his library both morning and evening; he saw him kneeling with a Bible open before him. He believed this to have been his daily practice.”
George Washington, America’s greatest President, publicly acknowledged his daily reliance on Jesus Christ for us as a nation and especially for himself as a believer. Pray we find another Washington soon.
The Evidence of Faith’s Substance _ Article #489