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Archive for the tag “prayer”

George Washington Was A Man Who Prayed

Washington prayer at Valley Forge

Today is President Washington’s birthday. A framed print of the painting of him praying at Valley Forge hangs in my law office. He is a hero of mine, as he is for many, and well he should be.

Below is an article about the story of Washington praying in the woods. Regardless of whether it was witnessed there, many contemporaries have reported that it was President Washington’s habit to pray regularly and fervently. The essence of the story below is that a Tory, being a British sympathizer, came across General Washington praying in the woods, and returned to tell his wife that, based on the sincere faith of General Washington, he believed the British side would lose. There is a more scholarly version below:

“The nearest to an authentication of the Potts story of Washington’s prayer in the woods seems to be supplied by the “Diary and Remembrances” of the Rev. Nathaniel Randolph Snowden, an ordained Presbyterian minister, graduate of Princeton with a degree from Dickinson College. The original is owned by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Mr. Snowden was born in Philadelphia January 17, 1770 and died November 12, 1851. His writings cover a period from youth to 1846. In his records may be found these observations, in Mr. Snowden’s own handwriting:

“I knew personally the celebrated Quaker Potts who saw Gen’l Washington alone in the woods at prayer. I got it from himself, myself. Weems mentioned it in his history of Washington, but I got it from the man myself, as follows:
“I was riding with him (Mr. Potts) in Montgomery County, Penn’a near to the Valley Forge, where the army lay during the war of ye Revolution. Mr. Potts was a Senator in our State & a Whig. I told him I was agreeably surprised to find him a friend to his country as the Quakers were mostly Tories. He said, ‘It was so and I was a rank Tory once, for I never believed that America c’d proceed against Great Britain whose fleets and armies covered the land and ocean, but something very extraordinary converted me to the Good Faith!” “What was that,” I inquired? ‘Do you see that woods, & that plain. It was about a quarter of a mile off from the place we were riding, as it happened.’ ‘There,’ said he, ‘laid the army of Washington. It was a most distressing time of ye war, and all were for giving up the Ship but that great and good man. In that woods pointing to a close in view, I heard a plaintive sound as, of a man at prayer. I tied my horse to a sapling & went quietly into the woods & to my astonishment I saw the great George Washington on his knees alone, with his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He was at Prayer to the God of the Armies, beseeching to interpose with his Divine aid, as it was ye Crisis, & the cause of the country, of humanity & of the world.

‘Such a prayer I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying.

‘I went home & told my wife. I saw a sight and heard today what I never saw or heard before, and just related to her what I had seen & heard & observed. We never thought a man c’d be a soldier & a Christian, but if there is one in the world, it is Washington. She also was astonished. We thought it was the cause of God, & America could prevail.’ “He then to me put out his right hand & said ‘I turned right about and became a Whig.'”

Mr. Snowden, as if to emphasize the piety of Washington sets forth in his records that he often saw Washington, that he accompanied seventy other clergymen to visit him on the anniversary of his birth February 22, 1792. Then Mr. Snowden adds:

“I felt much impressed in his presence and reflected upon the hand and wonderful Providence of God in raising him up and qualifying him with so many rare qualities and virtues for the good of this country and the world. Washington was not only brave and talented, but a truly excellent and pious man of God and of prayer. He always retired before a battle and in any emergency for prayer and direction.”

“When the army lay at Morristown, the Rev. Dr. Jones, administered the sacrament of ye Lord’s supper. Washington came forward at ye head of all his officers and took his seat at ye 1st table, & took of ye bread and wine, the Symbols of Christ’s broken body and shed blood, to do this in remembrance of ye L J C & thus professed himself a Christian & a disciple of the blessed Jesus.”

Beyond Customer Service

Sugar makes friends wherever she goes.  One of the places she goes is to a local, family-owned pharmacy. 

The pharmacy was started by a husband and wife, Charles and Sylvia.  Charles was a pharmacist.  Two children, Berni and Barbara, followed in his footsteps and also became pharmacists who work in the family business.  Sylvia runs the cash register and the store pretty much.  She has a cute German accent.  She runs a tight ship. 

Charles died a year or two ago after a tragic medical problem left him incapacitated for several years.  Sylvia misses him greatly.  So do his adult children, of course.

When Sugar goes into the store to pick up a prescription, she might stay for a half hour.  She visits with Sylvia, Berni and Barb.  They let her hang artwork on a wall by the front door.  Sugar has some local artists in a rotation.

Yesterday, Sugar went in to pick up a prescription while I waited in the car — for half an hour.  When Sugar came out, she told me something extraordinary. 

She said to me that Sylvia, who is aware of some difficult issues that Sugar has been dealing with, told Sugar that she has been praying for her and that she fasted for two days as she prayed earnestly and constantly for Sugar.  Wow!

People often say, when they hear of an illness or death of a loved one, that you are in their thoughts and prayers.  That is nice.  It is probably true.

No one has ever told me that they were fasting and praying for two days — for me. 

Sugar was obviously touched.  The word “amazing” is overused.  This act of intercessory prayer for Sugar by Sylvia was indeed amazing. 

There is a song with lyrics that include:  “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know that we are Christians by our love.”

  Sylvia is a powerful prayer warrior.  Sugar had kind of a break-through yesterday.

To God be the glory, but I give Sylvia some credit too.  She knew Who has the correct prescription.


Consider this parable:
A man was driving on a country road when one of the tires on his truck blew out and was flat.
His brother came along and invited the man with the flat tire to come have a beer with him sometime.
“That would be nice, but what I need now is to borrow your cell phone so that I can call AAA.”
“You should not need my cell phone.  I know that you have a cell phone.  Use your cell phone.”
“I left my phone at home.  That is why I am asking for your help, Brother.  What does it hurt you to hand me your cell phone so that I can call AAA?”
“You should have checked your tires.  Then this could have been avoided.  I don’t have a flat tire.”
“Yes, I know, but may I use your phone or not?”
“Man, that hurts my feelings.”
“I will pray for you.”
“Thanks, but I need to call AAA.”
“I will pray for you.”
“I heard you the first time.”
“That is all I want to say.  I will pray for you.  Bye.”
And he drove away, thinking, “My brother is sure a screw up.  After all I have done for him, he wants to use my cell phone.  Isn’t praying for his sorry ass enough?  How dare he say that I hurt his feelings!  I am a good person.  Way better than him.  He deserves to be stranded.  Still, I will pray for him and patiently await the opportunity to have a beer together like the good old days.”
After the devout Christian brother drove away, a Samaritan on a Harley stopped.
“Hey, Dude, need any help?”
“Yeah, thanks.  Do you have a cell phone that I can use to call AAA?”
“Sure.  No problem.”
Maybe the brother was praying that someone else would help.

Independence Day

On the 4th of July, we Americans celebrate our nation’s independence.  It is fitting and proper that we should do this.

In addition to celebrating with parades, picnics and fireworks, it is also appropriate to pray.

Our prayers should certainly include thanking the Lord for the U.S.A. and our opportunities as citizens.

Our prayers should also include intercessory prayers for those who serve in the military and in various government leadership positions.

And, let us pray for wisdom for ourselves as well as our leaders.  I humbly suggest that we consider our expectations about what the federal government ought to be doing and what it ought not be doing for its citizens.   In the 200 plus years since our nation was formed, the role of government has expanded to such a degree that dependence on the government has been fostered.

The founders provided a wonderful framework by setting up our precious Constitution.  Our representative form of government provides the opportunity to debate choices we face about what the government will provide as services and spend for those services.

On Independence Day, let us think about (and pray about) how much dependence on our government we will accept as free people.

Okies Don’t Scare Easy

History, literature, movies, and music include many stories, some even true, about courage.   People admire courage, and should.  Americans, particularly Westerners, pride themselves on facing adversity bravely.

Tom Petty wrote a song that was featured in the recent movie, Appaloosa.  The song is called  “Scare Easy.”  Some of the lyrics are:  “I don’t scare easy.  Don’t fall apart when I’m under the gun.  You can break my heart and I ain’t gonna run.  I don’t scare easy for no one.”

The tornadoes in Oklahoma have been devastating.  We pray for the many who have lost their homes and loved ones. These folks have demonstrated that they don’t scare easy.  God bless them!

Listen to the entire song performed by Mudcrutch for the movie:

The Nature of Nature

Hurricane Sandy, related storms and their aftermath remind us that we humans are not in control of nature and the occasional natural disasters.

We do have some control over how we respond.  I cringe when people who refused to evacuate do not refuse, indeed invite, rescuers to risk their lives coming to the assistance of the non-compliers.  I guess they are entitled to change their minds after such a dangerous mistake in judgement.  Maybe I would not evacuate either, but I would feel guilty about then needing assistance.

When we face disasters together, we share fears and witness acts of heroism.  We feel connected.  We are connected by the shared experience, at least, and for most, by shared responses of helping one another.  Many of us turn to the Lord in prayer.

Rain can be good.  We longed for it during the wildfires last summer.  Too much can be destructive, such as with hurricanes and flooding.

The Bible reminds us that rain does not come as a reward or punishment for individuals based on merit.  “Rain falls on the just and the unjust.”  It falls on the general public, of which we are all members.

Life’s Challenges

Presently, there is a wildfire in our county, Larimer County, Colorado, near Fort Collins.  It has been named The High Park Fire.  This wildfire has burned over 43,000 acres, an area that could contain both the cities of Fort Collins and Boulder.  The fire is not in the cities, that is just a size reference.  The fire is burning in the mountains where there are many trees dead from beetle kill and the underbrush is dry from lack of snow and rain this spring.  So there is plenty of fuel.  And wind has fanned the fire out of control.

Over 100 structures have been destroyed, including homes, of course, but not all are homes as the count does not distinguish between residences and outbuildings such as barns, sheds and garages.  Regardless, that is a lot of property loss.

One life has been lost.  A 63 year old woman, who had twice been called by phone to evacuate, either chose to stay or did not receive the messages.  It is sad that she died in the mountain cabin that she loved. 

Many others, hundreds, have evacuated.  They are dealing with the fear of the unknown about whether their homes will burn.  Others already know their homes have burned.  Others have been allowed back in.  Others on are pre-evacuation alert.

There is an evacuation center at the county fairgrounds.  It used to be at a middle school but had to be moved farther from the fire due to smoke.  At the fairgrounds, large animals of evacuees may be kept as well.  Small pets were taken to the Humane Society until filled to capacity.  Now a vet clinic is taking overflow.  Many of the evacuated folks are staying with friends and relatives.  There are kind people helping those in need in addition to Red Cross and Salvation Army.

The real heroes are the firefighters, of course, ranging from local volunteer fire departments to professionals from other states.   The number keeps growing as the fire has grown.  Today there were more than 500 firefighters, including “boots on the ground” and pilots of planes and helicopters that drop retardant and water on the flames.

There are many to praise and no one to blame.  The fire was started by lightning, not even negligent humans, and especially not evil terrorists like those responsible for 9/11/01.

The Bible says that “It rains on the just and the unjust.”  I pray it will rain on this fire.


The boy was too little to cross the street without assistance.  The household rule was that he could not cross unless an adult was there to watch or to even hold his hand while crossing with him.  But he could go to Wesley’s house all by himself because it was on the same side of the street, on the same block, around the corner at the bottom of the hill.  No streets to cross.

He was on his way home from playing at Wesley’s house when, alas, his required route took the little boy into danger.

The danger was in the form of a mean dog.  The dog had a bad reputation among kids on the street and a name to match – Nipper.  When Nipper was in his front yard, every kid knew to cross the street because otherwise Nipper would chase you and he was known to actually bite, or at least  “nip.”

This little boy faced a dilemma that other children did not.  He could not cross the street without incurring the wrath of his mother so he had to decide whether to face Nipper or, by crossing the street in order to avoid the dog, face being in big trouble with his mother.  So he did the cowardly thing and chose to face the lesser danger.  He chose to face the mean dog.

And he did have to face the dog because on that particular day Nipper was in its front yard.  The little boy was justifiably afraid to walk past Nipper’s house.  In his fear, he turned to the Lord.  At age three, he was too young for regular school, but he attended Sunday School.  At Sunday School he had learned about miracles.  And he had been taught to pray both at home and at church.  So he prayed.  He prayed that Nipper would go to the back yard so he could pass by the house safely.  He kept praying as he walked closer and closer.

And guess what!  A miracle happened!  Nipper DID walk from his lookout spot in the front yard.  Nipper walked down the driveway and into the back yard.  Nipper’s retreat opened, like the Red Sea, a safe route home for the praying child.  God did that!

And guess what else!  I was that little boy.  When I got home, with great excitement I told my mother about the miracle.  I told her how I had asked God to protect me from Nipper and that right then Nipper left to go to the back yard.  I saw the direct connection between my fervent prayer and Nipper leaving.  Appropriately, I gave God the glory.

The next Sunday, Mom told our pastor the story and he smiled and said something about the faith of a little child.

I was blessed by being raised in a Christian home.  It was natural for me to have a relationship with God because that was modeled for me by my parents and other family members.  Some believers can point to a certain moment when they came to believe.  I cannot remember not believing.  We come to the Lord in different ways.  And each way is wonderful.

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