Voices of Faith: Truman sought understanding in daily prayer

Many admire the strength of character of Harry S. Truman. Yes, the Harry Truman, who was President of the United States. It was Harry Truman who ended World War II and was President during most of the Korean War. Harry Truman stood up against anyone or anything for what he thought was right.

Recently, my wife, Melissa and I visited Potsdam in Europe. That is where the great Potsdam Conference of Allied leaders of World War II was held. That is where the President of the United States, Harry Truman negotiated with Joseph Stalin , Clement Attlee, Prime Minister of England and leaders of France over the future of Europe. The photos of the era show President Truman as a robust, energetic, highly positive person at that Conference. As I stood by his chair at the round conference table at Potsdam, I could only think of how this man, who came from a Missouri farm, progressed by strength of character to come to this conference table to determine the fate of Europe.

In his book “The Book of Man, Readings on the Path to Manhood,” author William J. Bennett cites Truman as an example to young men and reveals an excerpt from the President Truman’s diary dated August 15, 1950. It exposed the deep and sensitive Christian character of Truman. Here is the diary entry and the prayer:

“The prayer on this page has been said by me – Harry S. Truman – from high school days, as a window washer, bottle duster, floor scrubber in an Independence, Mo., drugstore, as a timekeeper on a railroad contract gang, as an employee of a newspaper, as a bank clerk, as a farmer riding a gang plow behind four horses and mules, as a fraternity official learning to say nothing at all if good could not be said about a man, as a public official judging the weaknesses and short comings of constituents, and as President of the United States.

“Oh! Almighty and Everlasting God, Creator of Heaven, Earth and Universe: Help me to be, to think, to act what is right, because it is right; make me truthful, honest and honorable in all things; make me intellectually honest for the sake of right and honor and without thought of reward to me. Give me the ability to be charitable, forgiving and patient with my fellowmen – help me to understand their motives and their shortcomings – even as Thou understandest mine!

“Amen, Amen, Amen.”

Truman’s prayer could have come from the Lord’s Prayer. Matthew 6: 9-13. While all men fall short, he clearly recognized God as creator. He was humble in seeking God’s righteousness. He was transparent in seeking to be truthful and honest. He wanted to do God’s will regardless of any personal sacrifice. He sought to be charitable and forgiving towards others with patience. He also sought to understand his fellow man and asked God to understand his own confessed shortcomings.

Dr. Roger E. Holl is Pastor of Sterling Grace Brethren Church. For more information, visit sterlinggracebrethrenchurch.org.

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