A Prayer of Blessings – Chester A. Arthur

Prayers-presidents-2004The following Thanksgiving prayer is that of Chester A. Arthur, the twenty-first President of the U.S. It is part of his Thanksgiving proclamation made on November 4, 1881. You will notice that it reflects the post-Civil War era, which was still fresh on our national conscience.

The prayer is taken from a collection of presidential prayers published by Baker Books in 2004 as Prayers of Our Presidents, edited by Jerry MacGregor and Marie Prys.

It has long been the pious custom of our people, with the closing of the year, to look back upon the blessings brought to them in the changing course of the seasons and to return solemn thanks to the all-giving source from whom they flow.

And although at this period, when the falling leaf admonishes us that the time of our sacred duty is at hand, our nation still lies in the shadow of a great bereavement, and the mourning which has filled our hearts still finds its sorrowful expression toward that God before whom we but lately bowed in grief and supplication, yet the countless benefits which have showered upon us during the past twelve-month call for our fervent gratitude and make it fitting that we should rejoice with thankfulness that the Lord in His infinite mercy has most signally favored our country and our people.

Peace without and prosperity within have been vouchsafed to us, no pestilence has visited our shores, the abundant privileges of freedom which our fathers left us in their wisdom are still increasing our heritage; and if in parts of our vast domain sore affliction has visited our brethren in their forest homes, yet even this calamity has been tempered and in a manner sanctified by the generous compassion for the sufferers which has been called forth throughout our land. For all these things it is meet that the voice of the nation should go up to God in devout homage.

Wherefore, I, Chester A. Arthur, President of the United States, do recommend that all the people observe Thursday, the 24th day of November instant, as a day of national thanksgiving and prayer, by ceasing, so far as may be, from their secular labors and meeting in their several places of worship, there to join in ascribing honor and praise to Almighty God, Whose goodness has been so manifest in our history and in our lives, and offering earnest prayers that His bounties may continue to us and to our children.

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