The National day of Prayer was originally designated on July 4, 1953 as a day of prayer and penance. However the man who instituted this day spent July 4, 1953 fishing, golfing and playing bridge. During the 1950’s, church attendance was at an all-time high in America and most best-selling books were religious ones. Crime rates were low and divorce was rare. Unemployment was low and the nation was prospering. Prior to the turmoil of the decade to come, the nation had a confidence in God.
Who was this all-important and influential man who designated such an important annual day of reflection for America? It was Dwight D.Eisenhower. Dwight was named after the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody. Dwight Eisenhower’s parents were devout members of a German Mennonite group called the River Brethren. The River Brethren were known for their pacifism and certainly did not condone drinking alcohol, smoking or playing cards, of which Dwight eventually did all three. General Eisenhower grew up in a home that was dedicated to teaching him the Bible and he could quote many passages at length. Today he is hailed as one of the greatest US military generals.
Was this two-term President a hypocrite or did he believe that America had a duty to acknowledge God? Was he fallen away from his personal relationship with Christ or was he being used by and obeying Christ for such an important season of America’s history? “…Listen closely to my words. Do not let them out of your sight, keep them within your heart; for they are life…” (Proverbs 4:20-22)