July 20, 2019, marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Unity World Headquarters has special reason to commemorate this anniversary: Its most-beloved prayer, written by a Unity minister, was carried to the moon by astronaut Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin.
The light of God
The love of God enfolds us;
The power of God
The presence of God
watches over us.
Wherever we are, God is!
Known as the “Prayer for Protection,” this five-line verse was written by James Dillet Freeman, an acclaimed poet who was then the director of the Silent Unity prayer ministry.
He composed the prayer in 1940 during World War II. It was originally only four lines and was part of a Christmas prayer service. He told the story of the writing of the poem in his Unity Magazine column, “Life is a Wonder.”
“They told me they wanted affirmative prayers for protection on the back page. Among these was the verse from the 23rd Psalm …
“One of the young women who worked in Silent Unity was reading my manuscript as I wrote it, and as she finished it, she came up to me and said: “Jim, if I were a woman in England and they were dropping bombs on my roof, or if I were a soldier and someone was pointing a loaded gun at me, I wouldn’t want to feel like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. Can’t you do better than that?”
“I thought, You want me to do better than the 23rd Psalm? You have to be out of your mind. But rolling around in the back of my mind was the little verse I had written as a prayer for protection at Christmas.
The “Prayer for Protection” is one of two Freeman poems carried into space by Apollo astronauts. In 1971, a microfilm copy of Freeman’s poem, “I Am There,” was left on the moon by Apollo 15 astronaut James B. Irwin.
James Dillet Freeman (1912–2003) was an internationally acclaimed poet, author, and lecturer. A Unity minister, he served as director of the Unity ministerial program—today’s Unity Worldwide Spiritual Institute—as well as director of Silent Unity.
Unity Village is celebrating its centennial in 2019. On June 27, 1919, its founders, Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, purchased 58 acres of rolling timber and meadows about 15 miles southeast of Kansas City, Missouri. The area grew from a weekend retreat of tents and ponds into today’s thriving campus and its own incorporated town.
Unity, founded in 1889, helps people of all faiths apply positive spiritual principles in their daily lives. Unity World Headquarters at Unity Village publishes Daily Word, a magazine of inspirational messages distributed to 400,000 readers in more than 100 countries. The Unity prayer ministry, Silent Unity, offers prayer support 24/7. Silent Unity receives about 2 million letters, telephone calls, and online requests for prayer annually. Anyone in need of prayer support at any time may call 816-969-2000 or visit www.silentunity.org.
Unity World Headquarters is located at M-350 Highway and Colbern Road (1901 NW Blue Parkway) near Lee’s Summit, Mo. The Unity Village campus covers 1,200 acres and includes the largest fountain display in the metro. Weddings, retreats, and events are held year-round.