Living on a prayer

By Jelani Yancey

40 PRAYERS THAT CHANGED AMERICA. Dr. Paul E. Barkey 257 pages $16

Chuck Henderson Contributing Writer

Dr. Paul E. Barkey is a retired U.S. Army Chaplain and the current pastor of Ashland Community Church near Fort Riley and Manhattan, where he resides with his wife Jan.  Over the past two years, he brought us two most unusual daily devotionals, “On This Day - A Daily Guide to Spiritual Lessons from American History”, and its sequel “On This Day - A Daily Guide to Spiritual Lessons from Christian History.” 

Dr. Barkey’s latest effort is “40 Prayers That Changed America.”  While it is a departure from the daily devotional format that served so well in his previous books, it continues the inspirational theme in a new vein, with further self-contained lessons in history from the rich trove that is woven into the North American success story, from long before the Declaration of Independence right up to modern living memories today.

Dr. Barkey broke the mold with his previous books, which took the daily devotional format to new levels. 

By illuminating selected spiritual readings with relevant episodes out of history (some of it quite recent), Dr. Barkey created something greater than the sum of its parts.  We learned that a daily devotional could be truly interesting to just sit down and read.

“40 Prayers That Changed America” will not disappoint. It will expand your knowledge of America’s history with inspired selections of spiritual wisdom and lore, merging scriptural elements with something original, to bring the lessons home to our 21st-century hearts and minds.  From Columbus in 1492, to William Bradford at Plymouth Colony in 1620, to Washington at Valley Forge in 1777, to Lincoln at Gettsyburg in 1863 and his timeless Second Inaugural Address in 1864, Eddie Rickenbacker in WWI, FDR on D-Day 1944 and General Patton at the Battle of the Bulge in December of that same year, prayers for the astronauts of Apollo 13 in 1970, and the prayers of Todd Beamer and his fellow passengers on United flight 93 on Sept. 11, 2011.

Committed Christians and dedicated history buffs will find “40 Prayers That Changed America” a moving read.  Right on target for traditional Christian values and principles, and with each next chapter the broader result is something rare in the genre: a narrative that is genuinely interesting to read and share.

Dr. Barkey’s historical commentary, whether of the mundane or dramatic, familiar or obscure, is relevant and thought provoking.  Readers will find themselves turning to others to ask, “Did you know this?”

Chuck Henderson is a resident of Manhattan.

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