“First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
“Remember that God is our only trust. To Him, I commend you .... My son, neglect not the duty of secret prayer.”
This was the commission to George Washington by his mother, Mary Washington, as he left home to embark on a life of service to his country.
This man who would later become the first president of the United States of America remained true to his mother’s instruction.
In his field notebook during the Revolutionary War he maintained a personal prayer book, written in his own handwriting, consisting of twenty four pages. Upon reading these prayers, one can get a glimpse of the depth of his character and dependence on his Creator.
One Sunday morning his entry read thus: “Almighty God, and most merciful Father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to Thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise Thee for Thy protection both night and day, receive O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to Thee;”
“I yield Thee humble and hearty thanks, that Thou hast preserved me form the dangers of the night past and brought me to the light of this day, and the comfort thereof, a day which is consecrated to Thine own service and for Thine own honour.”
“Let my heart therefore gracious God be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works but wait on Thee, and discharge those weighty duties Thou required of me: ... pardon I beseech Thee, my sins, remove them from Thy presence as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of Thy son Jesus Christ, ...”
“Grant that I may hear it (God’s Word) with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me gracious God, the good work for which Thou hast sent it.”
“Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God and guide this day and forever for His sake, who lay down in the grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
For the sake of time and space, I omitted about half of the above prayer. Keep in mind that was General Washington’s morning prayer. His evening prayer was just as beautiful and heartfelt and ended with, ”Continue Thy goodness to me this night. These weak petitions, I humbly implore Thee to hear, accept and answer for the sake of Thy Dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.”
God, indeed, protected General Washington. Fifteen years after the Battle at the Monongahela, during the French and Indian War, Washington encountered an old Indian chief, who addressed him through an interpreter. The chief told of his account of that battle and seeing the supernatural protection of this general—said that the opposing Indians could see that their focus on killing Washington was going nowhere. He said, “twas all in vain, a power mightier than we, shielded you. Seeing you were under the special guardianship of the Great Spirit, we immediately ceased to fire at you. ...”
“Listen! The Great Spirit protects that man [pointing to Washington], and guides his destinies—he will become the chief of nations, and p people yet unborn will hail him as the founder of a mighty empire. I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.”
During the Revolutionary War, General Washington commissioned a flag to fly as their ensign on Navy cruisers. The flag was white with a green pine tree and above it the inscription, “An Appeal to Heaven.”
Among his many quotes a couple often times used are: “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.” AND, “That great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
George Washington died on December 14, 1799. Among the many honors and accolades, Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee wrote in his friend’s eulogy, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”
This has been just a small taste of the character and faith of George Washington. There is much more written about the great general and first president of the United States and there is much more of his own writings and prayers available for us to read and be inspired by.
As we celebrate our U.S. Independence Day this 4th of July, let’s be mindful of the faith of our fathers and be grateful to God for their sacrifices and diligence in establishing a great and free country for us and our posterity.
The facts and quotes in this article came from the book, AMERICA’S GOD AND COUNTRY Encyclopedia of Quotations*, by William J. Federer, FAME Publishing Inc. 1994, pages 634-664.
By Connie Wohlford
©Copyright 2017 Connie Wohlford