Whenever you do a thing, act as if all the world were watching.
- Thomas Jefferson
We are blessed to be Americans. Even in the worst of economic times, we live in an atmosphere of abundance and prosperity, and it’s easy to turn away from basic tenets of humanity: things like faith, family and charity. But turning away from these things has left our country fractured. People are angry, isolated and frustrated. Every day we move farther away from the principles that guided our Founding Fathers when they formed our Constitution.
So Glenn issued a challenge to his audience: (1) Pray on your knees every night; (2) Get the lies out of your life; and (3) Practice an act of charity every day. Do this for 40 days and 40 nights, and see where the gratitude takes you.
It may not seem like undertaking such a personal mission could make a difference, but the Challenge has had a powerful effect. Men, women and children across the nation are enhancing their lives and the lives of others by turning back to faith and handing their troubles to God. When you hear their stories and see the ripple effect taking place in their families, communities and America, it may inspire you to do the same, and it also may give you hope that we can turn the country back around to what it was intended to be.
We have been endowed certain inalienable rights by our Creator—life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. No political ideology owns those rights, and only God can bestow those blessings upon us. Our healing begins with each of us, individually. From there, compassion will take root and spread. What would our country look like if we allowed Faith, Hope and Charity to come back to America?
Let’s find out.
Here, in their own words, four Americans tell the story of how the 40 Day/40 Night Challenge changed their life.
Alexis in Alaska
“I choose every day to do some act of service."
I’m grateful that I’ve taken the Challenge. I’ve always carried a prayer in my heart, but it’s so much more to kneel before your Maker and give thanks for the blessings He has given you. This has been a wonderful habit. It’s been an amazing experience and so much peace has come into my life. It’s been humbling to feel God’s love in a different manner.
I’ve made it a priority to be a better person, to be more of an advocate, to have more of a voice. I’m a firm believer in bringing the country back to the principles of our Founding Fathers. It’s my prayer that we make our own changes to bring glory and honor back to this wonderful country and make our forefathers proud.
I need to be more proactive in my life as far as being a voice for what I know to be right. When that part of it came to me, as part of being truthful, it stung me really deeply. The Challenge has taught me to watch what I say and do before acting. I think often in life we react before we think.
I am more aware and more self-conscious when I make a comment. Is this the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Am I perfect? Absolutely not– but I’m striving hard to live with truth and honesty in all that I do and say.
The charity part of the Challenge has been the easiest of them all. By nature I’m a very charitable person. I’ve always been able to give with no thought of return. My parents taught me that, and I’m so thankful they did. My life is so full when I’m able to see others reach their dreams or goals, or if I’m able to give back in some form. I work a lot with military programs to help veterans and their families.
But what charity has taught me now is to serve my family, to whom I am not close. I love them all so much and this experience is giving me another chance to reach out in love. I’m starting to build a relationship with them that I’ve never had. I can see their hearts changing and that humbles me.
You can see the character of a man by the way he treats those around him. I choose every day to do some act of service. At any given moment, I might be in the same situation and I would hope someone would reciprocate and help me out.
I feel I need to take responsibility for my life and my life choices, and lead by example. I just think, ‘if I can seed the idea like that for someone else…’ Overall, this has just been an incredible experience.
Karen in Kentucky
"I feel at peace; God is in control."
I saw a need for us to be praying as a family together. The Challenge seemed like ‘Aha, this is what we should have been doing all along.’ In a subtle way it’s been a life-changing thing for us. It helped switch on that light bulb. We kept doing it and felt such a positive energy in our interaction as a family and in the peace that we felt.
My husband has been in the military for 23 years. The nature of his job has him gone most of the time, but he joins us in prayer when he is home. The stress level is better in our home. After the 2008 election, I felt discouraged. It was difficult to know what to do with those feelings. I was angry, frustrated, and constantly venting at my husband. The prayers changed the atmosphere. Instead of feeling angry, I feel at peace. God is in control. I can give it all over to Him. I can give over that helplessness, and it’s empowering.
My kids eagerly embraced the acts of kindness. They have soft hearts. My youngest put a pillow down where I was about to kneel, so I wouldn’t hurt my knees! My middle child shared his favorite video game with his youngest brother. My oldest volunteered to help his sister watch her two kids so she could get some chores done. My 2-year-old granddaughter loves “knee time" and always begins praying first! I love watching this fruit blossom in our family. It’s something we won’t just do for 40 days or nights, but continue indefinitely!
I’m impressed with the way my kids will start catching themselves now. The youngest has fallen into a pattern of telling a little white lie to slide around things. But now, he will say something and pause and then say ‘Sorry Mom, that wasn’t the truth.’ The Challenge is making an impact. They are doing nice things for each other. We always ask ourselves, what nice thing have you done for somebody today?
Praying for our leaders and our nation is a good way for all of us to submit our frustrations to God. My children understand now that we are to pray for our leaders, even though we may disagree with them. We are to pray for our enemies, even though they want to destroy us, but we must not be cowardly in making a stand for what is right. I think for too long people in our nation confused praying for our enemies as weakness and it never became action.
We need to have respect for each other, for our points of view and come together. With just that one goal in mind, to maintain the freedoms on which this country was founded, that alone is powerful enough to sit down and come together and fight for that freedom, just from that starting point.
The Challenge has inspired us. It has motivated us to put our money where our mouth is.
Linda in Maryland
“Kindness is an Underestimated Strength."
I knew I had to take this challenge. I really took it to heart. I didn’t just want to do what the directions said–I wanted to feel it, I wanted to live it. I’m a very independent type of person, and to have to humble myself took everything I had.
Now, I am closer to God than I’ve ever been in my entire life. There is a large crucifix upstairs that was on my grandfather’s coffin. I would go up there to pray and it took me weeks to be able to look up at that crucifix and not feel awkward, like I was a failure. But looking up was like I was looking God in the eye, making it real. I had to come to terms with indiscretions in my own life so I could feel healed, so I could move on from it.
At first I almost felt awkward. I know that sounds silly. I felt embarrassed that I had forgotten how to talk to God. But each day got a little easier and I added to my daily prayer this: “Dear God, please let your will, not mine, be done; and please grant me the courage and grace to do your will with no doubt and no fear."
Saying this prayer out loud in front of everybody has strengthened my faith in the Trinity. It didn’t strengthen my religion, just my faith, if that makes any sense. I know why I believe what I believe, and it’s lessened my fear.
What I decided is that if I can through my actions demonstrate the humility and graciousness that my faith teaches me then hopefully people will see that and accept that as what it really is... kindness.
All of this has opened my heart. I’m not silent, or afraid. I speak without fear and I let my actions and my deeds demonstrate who I am, as a mother, a wife, a Christian and an American–with great pride and humility!
We have to live in the truth. It makes you vulnerable, but it also frees you from the shackles of worldly foolishness. Are you worried what somebody should think of you? Are you kidding me? What really matters is what God thinks. You can’t hide from God.
Tim in Virginia
“My calling is to help other people now."
A lot has changed in my life. I’ve had a year of sobriety now. I’ve never been a religious person, but I figured I’d better be open-minded about this. I had to accept there was a higher power in my recovery because it worked for everybody else in the program so I couldn’t question it. I said fine, okay, but I didn’t pray.
When I saw the 40 Day Challenge, I thought wow, this is another way I can really have some structure in my life and better myself. I started to pray on my knees and I thought a good way I could do that is to stick my shoes under my bed so when I get up in the morning I have to lean down under my bed to get my shoes. It makes you do it. You get in the habit. I don’t even know how many days it’s been. I know it’s been more than 40 but I don’t want to stop. I think if it works for you, then why stop doing it?
I really like the idea of praying on your knees because the act of praying actually works. It does something. I don’t know what it is; all I know is that it’s working.
A year ago, my marriage was almost completely over. I was all about myself. I was completely isolated. I was thinking I could only give things to others if I knew what was in it for me. Once I stopped trying to be inside my own head, it was easier for me to live. I have a desire to help other people. I never really did before, but I can’t get enough of it now.
I became unemployed 20 months ago shortly after having open heart surgery for a connective tissue disorder. Some time after that things just came to a head. But I started doing the small things. I got up and took action. And son of a gun, all these things are happening within just a few weeks’ time. I’m a volunteer at the local rescue squad and have started EMT training classes. I just got my commercial driver’s license and am going to drive a school bus. You can’t just think your way into success; you have to take action.
My way of giving charity is to really help and support people. I’ve noticed since this program I’ve been very conscious of that. I find that when I help other people and I know that my motives have been checked at the door–and it’s not about me–then I know that giving something to someone else, I’m going to get it back one way or another because it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
One thing I learned a lot in the Challenge is that being honest is not too hard. It’s not being honest that is so hard, because when you tell the truth you don’t have to remember the truth; but you have to dig your way out if you have to keep remembering what lie you told.
I know that I’ve saved my marriage, and I haven’t lost my children. I’ve been able to sit down with them and make things right. Without God, I wouldn’t have all these blessings. It’s grace, that’s all it is. He is working through me. And I can see Him working through other people.
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