When we look at the history of our past presidents and founding fathers, one thing is incredibly clear: a great many of these men valued God and prayer.
Without a doubt, when you look at Founding Fathers' quotes and remarks from past presidents, it's evident that there was a deep reverence for the Almighty among many of these men.
Today, faith remains an important part of many politicians' platforms and daily lives. Bible studies unfold among senators and representatives in Congress each week, and the president and key stakeholders attend the National Prayer Breakfast annually.
What's the National Prayer Breakfast?
Before we dive into some fascinating quotes, let's first explore the nature of the National Prayer Breakfast, and why the event remains so popular.
According to Smithsonian Magazine, the National Prayer Breakfast is an annual event featuring "new friends and old associates, from 50 states and 140 countries, to break bread and forge fellowship in Jesus’ name."
President Dwight Eisenhower started the tradition in 1953 and it has continued ever since, with the U.S. president always attending, and with nearly 4,000 people gathering for the event each year. The 2020 event takes place on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020.
Now that we've explored the origins of the National Prayer Breakfast, let's dive into Founding Fathers' quotes on religion and presidential prayer proclamations of note:
George Washington: On God and Love
"I now make it my earnest prayer, that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in his holy protection that he would incline the hearts of the Citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to Government, to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow Citizens of the United States at large..." - George Washington
This is one of the Founding Fathers quotes worth reading. In it, Washington is speaking about the governors of the new United States. He encourages people, through God, to show love and obedience and to "entertain a brotherly affection."
This George Washington religion proclamation is intriguing, as it shows a belief in the Almighty as well as a belief that God can transform human hearts. It's one of the Founding Fathers quotes on prayer that is worth remembering.
Thomas Jefferson: Intrigue Over Jesus
"I hold the precepts of Jesus, as delivered by himself, to be the most pure, benevolent, and sublime which have ever been preached to man." - Thomas Jefferson
People spend a lot of time debating over and analyzing Thomas Jefferson religion proclamations, and with good reason. Here's one line from Monticello's website that sheds some light on the reason for so much debate:
"Jefferson’s views on prayer are even more ambiguous. He dismissed Biblical miracles as myth, implying doubts about the efficacy of prayer. But he recognized an obligation of humans to worship God, and he often prayed publicly, at least in very broad terms."
But while the Founding Father's quotes on religion have sparked controversy and debate, this statement about Jesus is fascinating.
This letter from Jefferson speaks favorably of Christ's statements, with Jefferson calling them the "most pure, benevolent, and sublime" statements preached to man.
Abraham Lincoln: 'We Have Forgotten God'
“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own." - Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln's statement is obviously not one of the Founding Fathers quotes (he came much later and was the nation's 16th president), but it's worth noting nonetheless. Lincoln obviously had a transformational impact on the U.S.
The former president noted that the U.S. had grown immensely powerful and prosperous but had "forgotten God." He then called on people to remember the Lord; he made these statements while calling for a day of prayer in 1863.
It's a powerful proclamation worth reading in its entirety.
John Adams: A Prayer for Presidents
"I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but the wise men ever rule under this roof." - John Adams
While looking at Founding Father quotes on religion, one cannot look past John Adams, the man who served as America's second president. Among Founding Fathers' quotes about prayer, this is a popular statement he made in 1800.
Adams wrote his wife a letter that year just two days after moving into the White House (he was the first U.S. president to live there). In that note, he offered a prayer to all subsequent presidents who would be elected to run America.
This is a powerful quote worth including due to its care and timelessness.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Spiritual Awakening
"No greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of religion -- a revival that would sweep through the homes of the nation and stir the hearts of men and women of all faiths to a reassertion of their belief in God and their dedication to His will for themselves and for their world. I doubt if there is any problem -- social, political or economic -- that would not melt away before the fire of such a spiritual awakening." - FDR
Last but not least comes this quote from FDR on one of his radio addresses — a statement that would certainly shock some political observers if it were uttered today. Going much further than any of the Founding Father quotes on religion that we shared in this article, FDR basically said that the best thing that could happen would be a "revival of religion."
He framed this as having the power to change hearts of men and women, and framed such a happening as a "spiritual awakening."
This wraps up our list of Founding Fathers quotes and presidential proclamations about God and prayer. Want more inspiration? Head over to PureFlix.com to watch thousands of TV shows and movies — entertainment you can access with a free trial.