April 20: The women who prayed for James K Polk

James K Polk
James K Polk

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth

1 Timothy 2:1-4

Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

1 Peter 3:1

It is Biblical to pray for people’s salvation, especially if that person is an unsaved husband.

Sarah Childress Polk was a devout Christian, but her husband, President James K. Polk, was not a believer. Unfortunately this mixed marriage was not unique – her husband’s parents were split: a devout mother and a scoffing father.

In fact, it wasn’t until her husband’s deathbed that he finally settled his lifelong struggle between skepticism and Christianity. James K Polk was an ambitious politician, but on his deathbed, he realized there were things more important than politics.

Interestingly it appears God used a sermon preached years earlier on his birthday to stir his conscience:

This was my birthday, being fifty years old. The text was from the Acts of the Apostles, chap. 17, verse 31: ‘Because He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom He hath ordained.’ It was communion day, and the sermon was solemn and forcible. It awakened the reflection that I had lived fifty years, and that before fifty years more would expire I would be sleeping with the generations which have gone before me. I thought of the vanity of this world’s honors, how little they would profit me half a century hence, and that it was time for me to be “putting my house in order.”

Diary of James K Polk

For twenty five years of their marriage, it is likely that Mrs. Polk prayed for her husband. For many more years it is likely that his mother prayed for him as well. Finally their prayers were answered only on his last days in earth.

Sometimes it seems that our prayer requests for loved ones will never be answered. That’s why James reminds us:

The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much

James 5:16

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