Prayers of the Presidents

From George Washington to George W. Bush, a sampling of personal and public prayers of America's presidents.


09/11/2013 03:24:15 PM

How is it that the prayer attributed to John F. Kennedy is is listed as Thanksgiving, 1963 (would have been 11/28) when he died six days before on 11/22?


01/21/2013 10:23:40 PM

I saw Ronald Reagan's supposed "Prayer for Healing" posted on Facebook, and while I didn't particularly disagree with it, I strongly suspected it to be, at best, a cobbled-together string of things he said at different times or, at worst, completely counterfeit. I'm not sure where Beliefnet sourced this "prayer," but if you Google it, you'll find it cited on several web pages, all with the same attribution: "From a speech to the American people, February 6th, 1986." Which begs the question, what was the occasion of this "speech to the American people"? After more Googling, I found out that on that date (coincidentally, his birthday), President Reagan spoke at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast -- not exactly a "speech to the American people" as a whole, but rather to the DC public officials who attended it. But let's ignore that. Did the President actually give this "prayer"? Actually, no. The only thing that matches up with the lengthy passage posted here is the last paragraph: "If I had a prayer for you today, among those that have all been uttered, it is that one we're so familiar with: The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace." None of the rest of this "Prayer for Healing" appears in the Prayer Breakfast transcript: So where did it come from? I don't know. But as I say, I suspect it may have been cobbled together from things he said at different times. And some of it may not even be his words. Does it matter if the words still resonate? I think so. When I saw this posted on Facebook, it was posted as a back-handed slap at America's current, and unfairly excoriated, leadership. And when people manipulate this ostensibly pious language to serve their earthly agenda, it isn't just a President who gets exploited. It's our religious beliefs themselves that get exploited. And in the last analysis, that's blasphemy.


12/18/2012 04:25:12 PM

For Ruth1940 I understand it is fashionable to increasingly refer to more and more founding fathers as Deists rather than Christians. This despite the fact ~ 1/2 the signatory's of the D. of I. held seminary degrees. When I hear/read this Deist versus Christian argument regarding the founding fathers, especially Washington and Jefferson it is an obviously ill-conceived one from the perspective that the Deist believes God does not intervene relative to one's prayers. Washington's poured his heart out to God in prayer at Valley Forge, a low point for Continental Forces under his command. He felt strongly enough about the issue to implement Christian Chaplains, 1 per division during the Revolutionary War. His written prayerful correspondence is well-documented throughout the war, peacetime that followed, when he realized the Articles of Confederation were insufficient to govern a people w/o tyranny and whose rights were divinely inspired. He filled many pages with prayerful pleading to God for intervention regarding the Constitution, Presidential inaugurations and throughout his presidency. On separate notes Continental Congress routinely held pre-session prayers lasting as long as three hours, clearly they felt and hoped God would intervene on their behalf. Despite the founding fathers being credited with rallying the masses or less than half to part ways w/The British Empire even if it meant war it was in fact the fierce, unintimidated Christian messages coming from the pulpit as early as the 1750's. Regarding Jefferson and his changing views on Faith it is little wonder they may/might have contrasted so significantly with Washington, Franklin, Adams and many of his elder statesmen in that while perhaps the most gifted academic of the bunch certainly appeared to be seeking terms w/God that were convenient per his life choices. It will become increasingly difficult in our post-modern society which is ever more hostile to Christianity to remember our countries roots. One may never know once upon a time we were an intentionally Godly people only such that ~ 230 years after winning our independence our troops in Afghanistan were ordered to burn bibles sent for the Afghan people w/o being unwrapped and our militaries new field manuel specifically states say or do nothing disrespectful of Islam. I pray for revival in our Nation before it's too late if not already. Best wishes,


08/27/2010 09:27:15 PM

According to his own words, Thomas Jefferson was a Christian... Joe, President of: Thomas Jefferson SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; DIPLOMAT; GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA; SECRETARY OF STATE; THIRD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES The doctrines of Jesus are simple, and tend all to the happiness of man. 1 The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses. 2 I am a Christian in the only sense in which He wished anyone to be: sincerely attached to His doctrines in preference to all others. 3 I am a real Christian – that is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus Christ. 4 1. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Bergh, editor (Washington, D. C.: Thomas Jefferson Memorial Assoc., 1904), Vol. XV, p. 383, to Dr. Benjamin Waterhouse on June 26, 1822. (Return)

2. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Alberty Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XII, p. 315, to James Fishback, September 27, 1809. (Return)

3. Thomas Jefferson, Memoir, Correspondence, and Miscellanies from the Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, editor (Boston: Grey & Bowen, 1830), Vol. III, p. 506, to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803. (Return)

4. Thomas Jefferson, The Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Albert Ellery Bergh, editor (Washington, D.C.: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904), Vol. XIV, p. 385, to Charles Thomson on January 9, 1816.


09/15/2009 01:35:31 PM

The prayer attributed to Thomas Jefferson is clearly not his. It is crucial to check references before quoting such stuff. (Jefferson was a deist, didn't believe in a god that interfered with the workings of the world at all, let alone prayed to Jesus!) See Is the rest of the stuff on this site equally unreliable?