Denzel Washington has found fame and fortune in Hollywood and on Broadway, achieving some of the highest honors in his profession.
But the actor, who turns 68 today, is almost as well-known for his Christian faith as he is for his two Oscars, his Tony award and numerous other honors and nominations.
In a 2014 speech to a group of actors, Washington emphasized the crucial need for prayer, according to The Christian Post.
“I pray that you all put your shoes way under the bed at night so that you gotta get on your knees in the morning to find them,” Washington told them.
“And while you’re down there, thank God for grace and mercy and understanding. We all fall short of the glory, we all got plenty.”
Prayer was the first thing on Washington’s mind at this year’s Academy Awards in March, when Will Smith stormed onstage and delivered his infamous “slap heard ’round the world” during a live telecast after Chris Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife.
Washington told People magazine that he and fellow actor Tyler Perry immediately approached Smith after the confrontation.
“I don’t wanna say what we talked about, but there but for the grace of God go any of us,” Washington said, according to People. “Who are we to condemn? I don’t know all the ins and outs of this situation, but I know the only solution was prayer, the way I saw it.”
Later in that ceremony, while accepting an Oscar award, Smith told the audience part of what he and Washington had discussed: “At your highest moment, be careful. That’s when the devil comes for you,” Smith told the audience.
When invited to speak in public, Washington makes a point of advising his audiences to look above for help and guidance.
In a commencement speech in 2015, Washington encouraged Dillard University graduates to “put God first in everything you do. … “Everything that I have is by the grace of God — understand that. It’s a gift … I didn’t always stick with Him, but He always stuck with me.”
“Having just buried my mother, I made a promise to her and to God, not just to do good the right way, but to honor my mother and my father by the way I live my life, the rest of my days on this Earth,” he said, according to CBN News. “I’m here to serve, to help, to provide,” he told Pastor A.R. Bernard during the discussion.
In a time where masculinity has frequently been labeled as “toxic,” Washington shared a different point of view with the “Better Man Event” audience when discussing the role of men.
“The John Wayne formula is not quite a fit right now,” Washington said. “But strength, leadership, power, authority, guidance, patience are God’s gift to us as men. We have to cherish that, not abuse it.”
To Christian men seeking success, Washington advised — first and foremost — “Stay on your knees.”‘
We could all use a friend, mentor, and encourager like this godly man.
Imagine if more Hollywood figures — and Americans in general — shared this man’s outlook and heeded his wise words. The world would be a much better place.
Here’s wishing you a happy, blessed birthday, Denzel Washington — and many more to come.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.