"Washington is reported to have had regular private prayer sessions, and personal prayer was a large part of his life," a report from MountVernon.org says. "One well-known report stated that Washington's nephew witnessed him doing personal devotions with an open Bible while kneeling, in both the morning and evening."
America's second president and one of the Founding Fathers, John Adams was the first to ask for a blessing to be spoken over the White House and clearly believed in the "principles" of Christianity as the foundation of the country.
“The general principles on which the fathers achieved independence were the general principles of Christianity," Adams said in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, whom some would argue was decidedly not a Christian. "I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
While many historians do not believe Abraham Lincoln, one of America's most memorable presidents, was a professing Christian, there is evidence he came to faith later in life.
“When I left Springfield I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian. When I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian," Lincoln said, according to the biography Abraham Lincoln, the Christian by William J. Johnstone. "But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ. Yes, I do love Jesus."
Though our fourth president later advocated for the separation of church and state, Madison "was a faithful Episcopalian who signed a federal bill to appropriate funds for Bible distribution," according to an article from Religion News Service.
In a letter Madison wrote to William Bradford in 1773, he said, "I have sometimes thought there could not be a stronger testimony in favor of religion or against temporal enjoyments, even the most rational and manly, than for men who occupy the most honorable and gainful departments and are rising in reputation and wealth, publicly to declare their unsatisfactoriness by becoming fervent advocates in the cause of Christ; & I wish you may give in your evidence in this way."
Grover Cleveland, our only president to serve two non-consecutive terms, wrote in his diary of the comfort he found in God after his oldest daughter, Ruth, popularly known as Baby Ruth, died at the age of 12:
"God has come to my help and I am able to adjust my thought to dear Ruth's death with as much comfort as selfish humanity will permit."
While many conservative Christians then and now would disagree with Jimmy Carter's politics, his faith can't be denied. Carter has ben Baptist Sunday school teacher for many years and also served for a time as a door-to-door missionary. During his time in the White House, Carter read his Bible daily and made prayer an important part of his life.
In an interview with Christianity Today, Carter noted how his faith and his duties as president were inseparable: "At the same time, there's no way I could ever separate my Christian belief from my obligations as a naval officer, as a governor or as President, or from my work now. I can't say my commitments as President were free of my beliefs. We worship the Prince of Peace, and one of the key elements of my life as President in challenging times was to keep our country peaceful."
Ronald Reagan is better known for his conservative stances than his faith, but several of his statements indicate a strong belief in God:
“I believe with all my heart that standing up for America means standing up for the God who has so blessed our land. We need God’s help to guide our nation through stormy seas. But we can’t expect Him to protect America in a crisis if we just leave Him over on the shelf in our day-to-day living."
George W. Bush, whose time in office most of us are old enough to remember, was rather bold in his public references to God and even said, "I believe God wants me to be president."
“As we continue to fight against terror, we ask the Almighty to protect all those who battle for freedom throughout the world and our brave men and women in uniform, and we ask Him to shield innocents from harm," Bush said in a speech during the Iraq war. "We recognize the sacrifice of our military families and ask God to grant them peace and strength. We will not forget the men and women who have fallen in service to America and to the cause of freedom. We pray that their loved ones will receive God’s comfort and grace.”