President George W. Bush spoke this morning at the 55th National Prayer Breakfast. The U.S. President told the crowd of government officials, legislators, and dignitaries that despite the fact that the country is made up of people of many different faiths, “we are a nation of prayer.”
Bush recalled for the hundreds gathered in the Hilton Washington Hotel that, “each day millions of our citizens bow their heads in silence and solitude, or they offer up prayers in fellowship with others.”
“America prays,” he said.
“They pray for themselves; they pray for their families; they pray for their neighbors and their communities. In many congregations and homes across this great land, people also set a time -- set aside time to pray for our nation and those entrusted with authority, including our elected leaders,” the president added.
As he travels across the country, the president said, he is constantly surprised by the number of people he encounters who say they are praying for him personally. “Isn't that interesting,” Bush commented, “you're working a rope line and people come up and say, Mr. President, I am praying for you and your family.”
“The greatest gift a citizen of this country can give those of us entrusted with political office is to pray for us,” he said.
“Prayer changes hearts. Prayer changes lives. And prayer makes us a more compassionate and giving people.”
“When we pray,” the president continued, “we surrender our will to the Almighty, and open ourselves up to His priorities and His touch. His call to love our neighbors as we would like to be loved ourselves is something that we hear when we pray. And we answer that call by reaching out to feed the hungry and clothe the poor and aid the widow and the orphan. By helping our brothers and sisters in need, we find our own faith strengthened, and we receive the grace to lead lives of dignity and purpose.”
Bush also recalled a prayer written by Fr. Mychal Judge, a chaplain with the New York City Fire Department who was killed on September 11th, 2001. "Lord, take me where you want me to go, let me meet who you want me to meet, tell me what you want me to say, and keep me out of your way," the president quoted.
“Father Mychal's humble prayer reminds us of an eternal truth: In the quiet of prayer, we leave behind our own cares and we take up the cares of the Almighty. And in answering His call to service we find that, in the words of Isaiah, ‘We will gain new strength. We will run and not get tired. We will walk and not become weary.’”