| National Prayer Breakfasts
On the first Thursday of every February, a National Prayer Breakfast
is held in Washington, D.C., hosted by weekly Bible study/prayer groups
held in the U.S.
Senate and House, and attended by the U.S. President, and about 3000
of our other national leaders and leaders from around the world.
NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST, FEBRUARY 5, 2004:
On February 5, 2004 U.S. General John Abizaid opened in prayer
"Almighty and merciful God, our nation pauses today to seek
your strength, to ask for your protection, and to reflect upon the
many blessings you have given this great land.
"We ask you to help us find the road to peace, to guide us
on this path even as we face those who would bring war to our shores.
"We know from your prophet Isaiah that he saw a vision of
a future day when the nations of the world would beat their swords
into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.
"But until the coming of that great day it is right for us
to pray that you would preserve our nation and give us courage to
defend it wisely. We pray that you give us patience in the face
of adversity. We ask that you grant us compassion for those who
seek our help to find justice and freedom.
"As we begin this National Prayer Breakfast we ask your blessing
be upon our President and his cabinet, our Senators and Representatives
in Congress, the Governors of our States, the Mayors of our Cities,
indeed all of our leaders.
"We commend to your gracious care and keeping our sons and
daughters who so proudly serve our armed forces. We ask that you
defend and protect them each day, that you strengthen them in their
trials, and that you give them courage to face the
perils which confront them.
"We pray for the families of our fallen heroes, and we are
reminded of your scripture, that greater love has no one than this,
than to lay down one's life for his friends.
"For those who must fight this fight, we ask you to give them
both strength and humility to stand honorably for the freedom you
have granted all men and women. Ultimately let the great Arabic
words, "Peace be upon you" have meaning for all
your people. Hear our prayer O God, for we pray in your Holy Name,
President Bush spoke on the importance of prayer and the acts of
charity being done by our troops in Iraq toward the local residents
Congressman John Lewis and former Congressman J.C. Watts both spoke
importance of forgiveness, love and non-violent conflict resolution,
as modeled in the American civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin
Luther King in the 1950's and 60's.
It was noted that the Israeli ambassador was in attendance along
with the ambassadors of several Moslem nations.
The prayer meeting closed with Coach Joe Gibbs of the Washington
Redskins professional football team giving his testimony of receiving
Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.
Text and video of President Bush's message is available at www.whitehouse.gov
(search for National Prayer Breakfast, February 5, 2004).
NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST, FEBRUARY 3, 2005:
The speakers and prayer leaders on February 3, 2005 included President
Bush, a wounded U.S. combat veteran from the Middle East (who read
Psalm 91), and former U.S. congressman (now U.S. ambassador to the
U.N.'s Agency for Food and evelopment) Tony Hall who gave the following
--care for the poor
--pray for our leaders
--gather in small groups to pray and study God's Word
--love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and your
neighbor as yourself.
For the text and video of President Bush's remarks: www.whitehouse.gov
search for National Prayer Breakfast 2/3/05.
NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST, FEBRUARY 2, 2006:
Before President Bush spoke it was reported from the podium that
this annual event was started in 1953 in response to then-President
Eisenhower's comment that he was living in the loneliest house in
This year's speakers included President Bush and Bono, the lead
singer from the rock music group U2. Bono emphasized caring for
the poor, especially AIDS victims in Africa.
For the text and video of President Bush's remarks: www.whitehouse.gov
search for National Prayer Breakfast 2/2/2006 (See text below).
For a video of the entire event (only available for a few days
after Feb. 2, 2006): www.c-span.org look under "Recent Programs"
for: "Bono & Pres. Bush at the Annual National Prayer Breakfast."
Keep praying first of all for nations, leaders and world events!
(1st Tim. 2:1-4)
Jeff Wright, director NPE
For Immediate Release from the White House
Office of the Press Secretary
February 2, 2006
President Attends 54th Annual National Prayer Breakfast
Hilton Washington Hotel
9:09 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. (Applause.) Thanks
for the warm welcome. Laura and I are delighted to be here. This
lovely personality said this morning, keep your remarks short. (Laughter.)
I appreciate this prayer breakfast a lot, and I appreciate the
spirit in which it was formed. Ike said he was living in the loneliest
house in America -- what he forgot to say is, the rent is pretty
It's great to be here with distinguished guests from all around
the world. Your Majesty and Prime Ministers and former Prime Ministers,
friends with whom I have the honor to work, you're welcome here.
I appreciate the fact that people from different walks
of life, different faiths have joined us. Yet I believe we share
one thing in common: We're united in our dedication to peace and
tolerance and humility before the Almighty. (Applause.)
I want to thank Senators Pryor and Coleman for putting on this
breakfast. I appreciate Senator Frist, Representative Blunt, Representative
Pelosi, other members of the United States Congress who've joined
us on the dais and who are here for this
breakfast. I thank the members of my Cabinet who are here. Get back
to work. (Laughter.)
I find it interesting that the music is from Arkansas. (Laughter.)
I'm glad it is, because they know how to sing down there. (Laughter.)
You know, I was trying to figure out what to say about Bono --
BONO: Careful. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: And a story jumped to mind about these really good
Texas preachers. And he got going in a sermon and a fellow jumped
up in the back and said, "Use me, Lord, use me." And the
preacher ignored him, and finished his sermon. Next Sunday
he gets up, and cranking on another sermon. And the guy jumps up
and says, "Use me, Lord, use me." And after the service,
he walked up to him and said, "If you're serious, I'd like
for you to paint the pews." Next Sunday, he's preaching, the
guy stands up and says, "Use me, Lord, use me, but only in
an advisory capacity." (Laughter.)
So I've gotten to know Bono. (Laughter.) He's a doer. The thing
about this good citizen of the world is he's used his position to
get things done. You're an amazing guy, Bono. God bless you. (Applause.)
It is fitting we have a National Prayer Breakfast, because our
nation is a nation of prayer. In America, we do not prescribe any
prayer. We welcome all prayer. We're a nation founded by men and
women who came to these shores seeking to worship the
Almighty freely. From these prayerful beginnings, God has greatly
blessed the American people, and through our prayers, we give thanks
to the true source of our blessings.
Americans remain a prayerful people today. I know this firsthand.
I can't tell you the number of times out there traveling our country,
people walk up, total strangers, and say, Mr. President, I'm praying
for you and your family. It is one of the great blessings of the
presidency, and one of the most wonderful gifts a person can give
any of us who have the responsibility to govern justly. So I thank
Every day, millions of Americans pray for the safety of our troops,
for the protection of innocent life, and for the peace we all hope
for. Americans continue to pray for the recovery of the wounded,
and to pray for the Almighty's comfort on those who have lost a
loved one. We give thanks daily for the brave and decent men and
women who wear our nation's uniform, and we thank their families,
In this country, we recognize prayer is a gift from God to every
human being. It is a gift that allows us to come before our Maker
with heartfelt requests and our deepest hopes. Prayer reminds us
of our place in God's creation. It reminds us that when we
bow our heads or fall to our knees, we are all equal and precious
in the eyes of the Almighty.
In prayer, we're reminded we're never alone in our personal trials
or individual suffering. In prayer, we offer our thanksgiving and
praise, recognizing our
lives, our talents and all that we own ultimately flow from the
Creator. And in these moments of our deepest gratitude, the Almighty
reminds us that for those to whom much has been given, much is required.
In prayer, we open ourselves to God's priority, especially His
charge to feed the hungry, to reach out to the poor, to bring aid
to the widow or the orphan. By surrendering our will to God's will,
we learn to serve His eternal purposes. Through
prayer, our faith is strengthened, our hearts are humbled and our
lives are transformed. Prayer encourages us to go out into the world
In our country, we recognize our fellow citizens are free to profess
any faith they choose, or no faith at all. You are equally American
if you're a Hebrew -- a Jew or a Christian or Muslim. You're equally
American if you choose not to have faith.
It is important America never forgets the great freedom to worship
as you so choose. (Applause.)
What I've found in our country, that whatever our faith, millions
of Americans answer the universal call to love your neighbor just
like you'd like to be loved yourself. Over the past five years,
we've been inspired by the ways that millions of Americans have
answered that call. In the face of terrorist attacks and devastating
natural disasters here and around the world, the American people
have shown their faith in action again and again. After Katrina,
volunteers from churches and mosques and synagogues and other faith-based
and community groups opened up their hearts and their homes to
the displaced. We saw an outpouring of compassion after the earthquake
in Pakistan and the tsunami that devastated entire communities.
We live up to God's calling when we provide help for HIV/AIDS victims
on the continent of Africa and around the world.
In millions of acts of kindness, we have seen the good heart of
America. Bono, the true strength of this country is not in our military
might or in the size of our wallet, it is in the hearts and souls
of the American people. (Applause.)
I was struck by the comment of a fellow who was rescued from the
Gulf Coast and given shelter. He said, "I didn't think there
was so much love in the world." This morning we come together
to recognize the source of that great love. We come
together before the Almighty in prayer, to reflect on God's will,
to seek His aid, and to respond to His grace.
I want to thank you for the fine tradition you continue here today.
I pray that our nation will always have the humility to commend
our cares to Providence and trust in the goodness of His plans.
May God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 9:17 A.M. EST
NATIONAL PRAYER BREAKFAST, FEBRUARY 5, 2009:
Remarks of President Barack Obama:
Good morning. I want to thank the Co-Chairs of this breakfast, Representatives Heath Shuler and Vernon Ehlers. I’d also like to thank Tony Blair for coming today, as well as our Vice President, Joe Biden, members of my Cabinet, members of Congress, clergy, friends, and dignitaries from across the world.
Michelle and I are honored to join you in prayer this morning. I know this breakfast has a long history in Washington, and faith has always been a guiding force in our family’s life, so we feel very much at home and look forward to keeping this tradition alive during our time here.
It’s a tradition that I’m told actually began many years ago in the city of Seattle. It was the height of the Great Depression, and most people found themselves out of work. Many fell into poverty. Some lost everything.
The leaders of the community did all that they could for those who were suffering in their midst. And then they decided to do something more: they prayed. It didn’t matter what party or religious affiliation to which they belonged. They simply gathered one morning as brothers and sisters to share a meal and talk with God.
These breakfasts soon sprouted up throughout Seattle, and quickly spread to cities and towns across America, eventually making their way to Washington. A short time after Preside nt Eisenhower asked a group of Senators if he could join their prayer breakfast, it became a national event.
And today, as I see presidents and dignitaries here from every corner of the globe, it strikes me that this is one of the rare occasions that still brings much of the world together in a moment of peace and goodwill.
I raise this history because far too often, we have seen faith wielded as a tool to divide us from one another – as an excuse for prejudice and intolerance. Wars have been waged. Innocents have been slaughtered. For centuries, entire religions have been persecuted, all in the name of perceived righteousness.
There is no doubt that the very nature of faith means that some of our beliefs will never be the same. We read from different texts. We follow different edicts. We subscribe to different accounts of how we came to be here and where we’re going next – and some subscribe to no faith at all.
But no matter what we choose to believe, let us remember that there is no religion whose central tenet is hate. There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being. This much we know.
We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together.
Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself."
The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow."
In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."
And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.
It is an ancient rule; a simple rule; but also one of the most challenging. For it asks each of us to take some measure of responsibility for the well-being of people we may not know or worship with or agree with on every issue. Sometimes, it asks us to reconcile with bitter enemies or resolve ancient hatreds.
And that requires a living, breathing, active faith. It requires us not only to believe, but to do – to give something of ourselves for the benefit of others and the betterment of our world.
In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times.
This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.
The goal of this office will not be to favor one religious group over another – or even religious groups over secular groups. It will simply be to work on behalf of those organizations that want to work on behalf of our communities, and to do so without blurring the line that our founders wisely drew between church and state.
This work is important, because whether it’s a secular group advising families facing foreclosure or faith-based groups providing job-training to those who need work, few are closer to what’s happening on our streets and in our neighborhoods than these organizations. People trust them. Communities rely on them. And we will help them.
We will also reach out to leaders and scholars around the world to foster a more productive and peaceful dialogue on faith. I don’t expect divisions to disappear overnight, nor do I believe that long-held views and conflicts will suddenly vanish. But I do believe that if we can talk to one another openly and honestly, then perhaps old rifts will start to mend and new partnerships will begin to emerge.
In a world that grows smaller by the day, perhaps we can begin to crowd out the destructive forces of zealotry and make room for the healing power of understanding.
This is my hope. This is my prayer.
I believe this good is possible because my faith teaches me that all is possible, but I also believe because of what I have seen and what I have lived.
I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.
I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to.
It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.
In different ways and different forms, it is that spirit and sense of purpose that drew friends and neighbors to that first prayer breakfast in Seattle all those years ago, during another trying time for our nation.
It is what led friends and neighbors from so many faiths and nations here today. We come to break bread and give thanks and seek guidance, but also to rededicate ourselves to the mission of love and service that lies at the heart of all humanity.
As St. Augustine once said, "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." So let us pray together on this February morning, but let us also work together in all the days and months ahead.
For it is only through common struggle and common effort, as brothers and sisters, that we fulfill our highest purpose as beloved children of God. I ask you to join me in that effort, and I also ask that you pray for me, for my family, and for the continued perfection of our union. Thank you.