“We have staked the whole of our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.” —James Madison
Presidents Day is a day to celebrate the lives of Presidents Washington and Lincoln. America’s beloved first President was born, according to the Gregorian calendar, on Feb. 22, 1732. And America’s 16th President was born on Feb. 12, 1809.
In 1971, Congress decided to merge the birthdays into a one-day celebration and deemed that “Washington’s Birthday,” also known as Presidents Day, would be moved from February 22 to the third Monday in February.
“Believing that a representative government, responsible at short periods of election, is that which produces the greatest sum of happiness to mankind, I feel it a duty to do no act which shall essentially impair that principle.”—George Washington
“I leave you hoping that the lamp of liberty will burn in your bosoms until there shall no longer be a doubt that all men are created free and equal.”—Abraham Lincoln
“The only assurance of our nation’s safety is to lay our foundation in morality and religion.” – Abraham Lincoln
When Washington was leading his troops in the struggle for independence, he was greatly discouraged during the harsh winter the army was gathered at Valley Forge. A resident of Valley Forge, Isaac Potts, was walking through the woods when he heard a man praying aloud. He peeked through some trees to see that it was General Washington himself!
Isaac Potts later told his pastor, the Rev. Nathaniel Snowden, that the prayer he heard was “a plaintive sound” coming from a man in need of divine help. Mr. Potts went on to say that he saw Washington on his knees, his sword on one side and his cocked hat on the other. He heard Washington beseeching God for aid and direction. “Such a prayer,” Isaac said, “I never heard from the lips of man. I left him alone praying.”
Once again our nation is beset with great barriers to overcome. We are faced as a nation with many national decisions to make. As a nation we are poised on the precipice of bankruptcy and ruin. At such a time as this it is only fitting to once again fall to our knees and offer a plaintive sound of a nation in need of divine guidance and providence once again. So we beseech the God of Washington and Lincoln once again:
Lord of heaven and earth, we offer you our deepest appreciation for this blessed land. Stir up a sense of stewardship in every citizen so we all may care for our nation and each inhabitant of it.
We pray especially for our leaders. Prompt everyone in a position of authority, from local to national leaders, to strive for righteousness, justice and the welfare of all citizens.
Finally, we pray that we may be ever mindful of the psalmist’s teaching that “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord …” (Psalm 33:12, NRSV). May that promise become real “from sea to shining sea.” Amen.