“Prayer,” said the poet Hannah More, “is the cry of faith to the ear of mercy. The confession of need to Him who alone can relieve it.”
These words were given to the world two hundred years ago. They are a timeless, beautiful reminder that God both hears and answers prayer.
Hannah More also described prayer as “the confidence of trust”—words that are an echo of those that grace our coinage, “In God We Trust.”
Though many might not give these words a second thought, or a second glance as they make change and pass a few coins to the person at the check-out counter, we ought to pause on this, the National Day of Prayer, and consider the wisdom the words “In God We Trust” still hold for us.
Prayer, it has been said, “moves the hand which moves the world.” What a staggering thought, but it is true. And it is but another way of saying something our ancestors believed deeply: God moves in human affairs.
We need look no further than George Washington to see how profound a reality this was. On October 3, 1789, newly sworn in as America’s first president, Washington issued a proclamation that did “recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
The noted historian David McCullough has rightly said that when it comes to The Revolutionary War generation, “we cannot know enough about them.” The beautiful words issued in Washington’s proclamation remind us of God, “our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.” We should always remember that many of our founders looked to God to guide our future. They placed their trust in Him, and hoped we would as well.
Nearer our own time, the former Chaplain of the U.S. Senate, Peter Marshall, put it this way: “Our Father in heaven, we acknowledge you govern in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without your notice, how can we think you are indifferent to what we say and do here?”
These words were spoken in the U.S. Senate close to the time the words “In God We Trust” were approved as the motto that should be engraved upon our coinage. On this National Day of Prayer, we might well pray that it would be engraved anew upon our hearts.
Kevin Belmonte, is author of "Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life of G.K. Chesterton."