FH24: George Washington and the Book of Common Prayer

Images: The Reverend David Mossum, rector of St. Peter’s church in New Kent, VA, performing the marriage ceremony for George and Martha Washington, January 6, 1759.

“General George Washington in Prayer at Valley Forge” by James Edward Kelly.

The Founding Fathers in America have had a contested history in recent years. Men who have wrought such mighty works and an overwhelming legacy could not be left untouched by the cultural debate taking place right now. Despite the very famous and attested faithful bona fides of most of the Founders such as Patrick Henry, Dr. Witherspoon, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and others, increasing attention has been brought to a few like Thomas Jefferson who had abandoned the Christian faith. And if he, who else? The searching eye, hopeful for apostasy, had cast its glance on the grandest Founder of them all, George Washington himself.

Washington famously did not talk much about his beliefs, and revisionist historians have put him in the small group of those who had abandoned faith. That is, until Dr. Peter Lillback (president of Westminster Theological Seminary) performed perhaps the most important recent effort on the culture of the Colonial era: in 2006 he published George Washington’s Sacred Fire. In this vast tome, he provided one of the most epic and meticulous records of a lifetime of a man’s Christian faith ever put on paper.

The story that is now left to be told is George Washington’s faith tradition. What kind of Christian was he? Was the most famous Founder an Anglican?

Dr. Lillback joins us for this amazing episode to describe George Washington’s habits of prayer, his adherence to the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, his dependence on Providence and the things unseen, and the rich Anglican milieu in which he was born, married, and formed his heroic character. Don’t miss this episode!

Guest bio: https://faculty.wts.edu/faculty/lillback/

Dr. Peter Lillback Rev. Dr. Peter Lillback (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is president and professor of historical theology and church history at Westminster Theological Seminary. He also serves as the president of The Providence Forum and senior editor of the new Unio cum Christo: An International Journal of Reformed Theology and Life.




  • Dr. Peter Lillback
  • Rev. Bart Gingerich
  • James Syrow