First and foremost, George Washington at Valley Forge held to his faith in the revolution’s providential purpose - that the Hand of Providence favored the rebellion’s fight for freedom and human rights. Prayer was an essential part of his belief. And in the conflict’s darkest hour, it would only make sense that the General and Commander in Chief would take to his knees in supplication while seeking guidance from that “All wise and powerful Being on whom alone our success depends.”
The seed for Liz Lemon Swindle’s painting In God We Trust was planted by none other than political commentator Glenn Beck, author of the book Being George Washington. A conversation between the two had evolved around to Liz’s love for Arnold Friberg’s Prayer at Valley Forge. Beck too loved the painting. He then off-handedly remarked it was too bad Friberg had not depicted the moment with Washington on the ground on both knees, as that was how he was known to pray. The idea blossomed.
But in her painting it is not that we encounter Washington on his knees that is so captivating, but rather the strength of his conviction we see in his eyes. We see in him the eyes of faith. That he carries the burden of his imperiled country is abundantly clear. He gazes towards heaven, petitioning Providence for personal guidance and for the eternal might to strengthen freedom’s righteous cause. Yet, neither is he panicked, nor is he lost. In God We Trust captures, in an intimate moment of communion, the guiding light the Founding Fathers followed in creating this great nation.