On this inauguration day, even in the midst of glaring political divisions, we are united by belief in our Constitution and in the freedoms which our system of government provides. Even more importantly, we who humbly acknowledge Jesus Christ believe that God is the author of true freedom and of life itself.

Many prayers are being offered publicly in Washington, D.C., today. There will be many mentions of God. But as I look back at our long line of presidents, my heart and mind are drawn to the one that set the standard for the rest. George Washington, father of our country, was a man of deep Christian faith and prayer. He journaled in his prayer diary each morning and each evening. The following is from one of his last entries:


Holy and eternal Lord God who art the King of heaven, cleanse my soul from whatever is offensive to Thee, and hurtful to me. Watch over me this night, and give me sweet sleep to fit me for the service of tomorrow. Let me remember, Lord, the time will come when the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise and stand before the judgment seat, and give an account of whatever they have done. And so let me prepare my soul, that I may do it with joy and not with grief.

Thou mad’st me at first and gav’st thy Son to die for me; Thou hast given me assurance of salvation, upon my repentance and endeavoring to conform my life to thy holy precepts. Thou art pleased to lengthen out the time of my repentance and to move me to it by thy Spirit and by thy Word. I have sinned and done wickedly, be merciful to me, O God, and pardon me for Jesus Christ’s sake; suffer me not to be tempted above what Thou givest me strength to bear. Suffer me not to be drawn from Thee, by the blandishments of the world, carnal desires, and the deceitfulness of sin. Discharge my mind from all things that are of ill will and discontent, wrath and bitterness, pride & vain conceit, and render me charitable, patient and heavenly minded. Be with me at the hour of death; and deliver me from the slavish fear of it, and make me willing and fit to die whenever Thou shalt call me hence. Bless our rulers in church and state. Forget not those who are under affliction or oppression. Let the whole world be filled with the knowledge of Thee and thy Son Jesus Christ. Grant me grace to forgive my enemies as heartily as I desire forgiveness of Thee, for Jesus Christ’s sake, in whose most holy name I pray, Amen.

William J. Johnson, George Washington, the Christian (New York: Abingdon Press, New York & Cincinnati, 1919)