Americans are a prayerful people who continue to seek God’s will and to respond to this will in service to those in need, said President George W. Bush at yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast. The event was held at the Hilton Washington Hotel.
The annual breakfast is organized without government funding by the Fellowship Foundation, an evangelical Christian group. But this year’s breakfast had a more interfaith presence than past years in that the event’s co-chair was the Jewish Senator Norm Coleman. King Abdullah II of Jordan, a Muslim, was also one of the honored guests. He gave the keynote speech at a lunch, following the breakfast.
Rock star and humanitarian Bono gave the keynote address. He spoke about his own experience of faith and God and referred to the Jubilee 2000 Campaign before urging the United States to give "an additional one percent of the federal budget" to the poor, especially in Africa.
President Bush followed Bono at the pulpit.
“It is fitting we have a National Prayer Breakfast, because our nation is a nation of prayer,” said the president. He said he appreciated the presence of world leaders and people of other faiths, and adding that all present were “united in our dedication to peace and tolerance and humility before the Almighty.”
“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,” he said.
“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,” he continued. “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.”
He spoke from his experience and about how citizens pray daily for American troops and for the presidency and how, through prayer, they open themselves up to God’s will and to service for the poor. He commended Americans on how they expressed love for their neighbor in their responses to the numerous disasters that struck in recent years.
“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,” he said.
“Prayer,” he said, “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.
“I want to thank you for the fine tradition you continue here today,” he concluded. “I pray that our nation will always have the humility to commend our cares to Providence and trust in the goodness of His plans.”