Dwight D. Eisenhower: World War II General and U.S. President

Home Inspiring Story Dwight D. Eisenhower: World War II General and U.S. President

Prayers at the inauguration of presidents aren’t unusual, but they are when the newly sworn-in President issues them. Dwight D. “Ike” Eisenhower—former Supreme Commander in World War II—didn’t care for his speechwriter’s opening. Eisenhower had faith from a young age and prayed regularly. However, he’d only recently devoted himself to his wife’s denomination, the Presbyterian Church, and wanted faith to play a major part in his presidency. As he did with many things, he took command.

What followed were several more drafts and redrafts; some he disliked because they sounded too much like sermons. He gathered his staff and told them, “You want every person there to carry home with him a conviction that he can do something.”[1]

Ike didn’t mince words, and he wouldn’t in his inaugural address. He disliked words that drew attention to themselves. The average person needed to grasp the message and act upon it—a requisite communication task for a leader.[2]

On the morning of the inauguration, he decided to alter the opening of his speech. For the oath, Eisenhower placed his hand on the same bible George Washington had used and had it opened to this verse from the Old Testament. “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land“ (2 Chronicles 7:14, ESV).

He turned to the crowd waiting in the chilly weather and asked them to bow their heads while he uttered a private prayer. He asked God to “make full and complete our dedication to service” and to grant them discernment between “right and wrong.” Later in the speech, he returned his focus to the country’s need for faith as the “abiding creed of our fathers.”[3]

Within days, he ordered that every cabinet meeting begin with a moment of silent prayer, where one could respond according to their own faith. A week later he was baptized. Eisenhower meant what he had said at his inauguration. While he never demanded anyone pray or share his faith, he sent a strong message that prayer and faith played a major role in his life and that they would guide him in how he led the nation.

Scripture tells us that when we pray and seek God, He’s faithful and will hear us. As you lead, ask yourself whether you’re showing your faith before those you lead. Ike wasn’t shy in that regard, and you don’t need to be either. Boldly proclaim you’re led by faith in God.

[1] Bret Baier, Three Days in January: Dwight Eisenhower’s Final Mission (New York, NY: William Morrow, 2017), 87.

[2] Ibid, 87.

[3] Ibid, 88.