As a child, I often wondered how legends came about. Here’s one that I only recently discovered was not a legend but an actual event.
One of the best-known paintings of the American Revolution, The Prayer at Valley Forge by Arnold Friberg, depicts George Washington praying on his knees. For years, I held the misconception that the painting came from the artist’s imagination. Not so.
General George Washington chose Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, as his troops’ winter quarters in December 1777. The setting created an optimal defense locale … beyond that, nothing about their situation was idyllic. The men were underdressed for the brutal, freezing temperatures; roads were treacherous; food was scarce; farmers were unwilling to accept Continental money. With approximately twelve men per hut, poor sanitation caused disease to spread quickly.
It’s estimated that due to starvation, disease, and suboptimal hygiene, 2-3,000 men died that winter. How this must have weighed on their leaders’ heart!
Yet, it’s recorded that his men saw Washington read his Bible, pray, and at times venture away from camp to attend church. Often he would go off into the woods alone to pray.
On one such occasion, Quaker Tory Isaac Potts was passing through the woods when he heard a voice that sounded like “a man at prayer.” Potts left his horse to venture closer. He spied the general on his knees praying to God for his country, and not only the people of this country but everywhere in the world.
Potts hurried home and told his wife the shocking sight and prayer he’d heard. How could a man be both a soldier and a Christian? Potts had, to this point, believed in the British cause. But his conversion was swift and immediate. In fact, it’s recorded that Washington spent the remainder of the winter with the Potts’ family in their home.
The faith Washington demonstrated changed the course of the Potts’ family, the course of our country, and the course of history. And, while we’re grateful that’s true, is it any less miraculous and praiseworthy that prayer changed George Washington’s life and the lives of all he prayed for?
Could our prayers do any less?
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14, KJV
By Amre Cortadino
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