As Chaplain of the United States Senate in 1947, Peter Marshall had an extraordinary talent for prayer. To him the morning prayer was not just the opening part of the services, but the most precious moments an individual spends with the Lord. When he clasped his hands together, the prayers seemed to flow from the depths of his soul. Dr. Marshall did not write down his prayers, but there were those in his congregation who did. In 1954, his daughter, Catherine Marshall, published the edited prayers in a volume entitled simply, The Prayers of Peter Marshall.
These prayers have sustained and lifted me through difficult times in my life. They have humbled me and reminded me to be more patient, more understanding, and forgiving to one another. In one of his last prayers before his death, he uttered the words, "We are standing on the threshold of time." These words are as true today as they were in 1948.
As the searing tongues of misunderstanding and hatred leap out at us from the far corners of the world, it is far to easy to put our own self-interest and pride before all else and become complacent. Dr. Marshall's great concern was for the plain homespun virtues of honesty, integrity, and goodness of the individual. He saw clearly that we can never achieve nationally what we are unwilling to accede to individually. Over and over he kept calling us back to these basic realities.
As we approach this holiday season, let us look forward with a true sense of gratitude for all the mercy and blessings in our lives. May we get on with the job of creating not only a nation but a world in which all men shall have the right to seek happiness. Let's make this season a time of rededication, when we shall think not of how much we can eat or what gifts we want, but of how thankful we are for what we have.