“Thou gave Thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerity to conform my life to His holy precepts and example.” George Washington
Thanksgiving is one of America’s most sacred holidays and began over 200 years ago. George Washington, one of our greatest leaders and Presidents, inaugurated this holiday. He did so because he felt, as a nation we needed to give God continual gratitude for all He had done to help us gain our freedom and independence.
George Washington certainly gave God His due during the course of his personal life. By his own statements, he felt God directly and indirectly helped him with every battle he fought, every military and political position he held, and Constitutional amendment he worked to pass.
It’s amazing with all that George Washington said during the course of his life, some historians painted him as a deist. A deist is someone who only accepts God on the basis of nature and reason. As a result they do not accept the Bible as God’s personal revelation to mankind, nor pray to, or accept Christ as Savior.
In my public school experience I was taught that George Washington was a deist at best. It was not until years later when I was a teacher myself and visited his home at Mount Vernon with my daughter, that I realized how false this view was of him.
As I walked from one point to the next around Mount Vernon, I was quite impressed with the words he left behind for all to read, words about God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ. This inspired me to study further and read more about Washington and his beliefs. In my quest I found excerpts from one of his journals, which had been out of print for years. Below are just two of his journal entries after one of the battles he fought in when he was 23 years old. Hardly a deist would you think?
Washington’s Monday Morning Prayers
“Thou gave Thy Son to die for me; and hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and sincerity to conform my life to His holy precepts and example. O God, pardon me for Christ’s sake, instruct me in the particulars of my duty, and suffer me not to be tempted above what Thou givest me strength to bear. Bless my friends and grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee my heavenly Father.”
Washington’s Tuesday Prayers
“O blessed Father, let thy Son’s blood wash me from all impurities, and cleanse me from the stains of sin that are upon me. Give me grace to lay hold upon His merits; that they may be my conciliation and atonement unto thee that I may know my sins are forgiven, by His death and resurrection.” 1
Teachable Moment Application
At this Thanksgiving dinner when you sit down to eat and begin to pray for your meal, I suggest you include Washington’s Thanksgiving Declaration as a part of your prayer. It reveals a man who personally knew God and appreciated Him greatly.
Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Declaration
(October 3, 1789)
“Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the sovereignty of almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and, whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors (signs) of Almighty God, especially to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November to be devoted by the people of these States to be the service of that great and glorious Being (God), who is the Benefit Author (Creator) of all the good that was, that is, or will be.”
- George Washington the Christian by William J. Johnson, Page 28.