United States; A Nation of Prayer, A Testing Time

President Bush’s Remarks at National Prayer Breakfast

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WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2003, (Zenit.org).- «This is a testing time for our country,» U.S. President George W. Bush said, in remarks delivered at the 51st National Prayer Breakfast, Associated Press reported. The President joined in prayer with American political and religious leaders at the event, held at the Washington Hilton Feb. 6.

According to United Press International, the breakfast, a tradition in Washington since the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, featured a majority of the U.S. Congress, Cabinet members, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the head of the CIA and numerous spiritual leaders.

In his remarks, the President referred to the United States as «a nation of prayer,» expressed sorrow at the loss of the one Israeli and six American astronauts in the explosion of the U.S. space shuttle Columbia Feb. 1, and asked for divine assistance in the face of terrorism and the likelihood of impending war.

The text of the President’s remarks may be found below:

It is fitting that we have a National Prayer Breakfast. It is the right thing to do, because this is a nation of prayer. I know, from firsthand knowledge, that this is a nation of prayer. See, I work the ropelines a lot, and I hear all kinds of things on the ropelines. But the thing I hear the most, the comment I hear the most from our fellow citizens, regardless of their political party or philosophy, is: Mr. President, I pray for you and your family, and so does my family. That’s what I hear. I turn to them without hesitation and say, it is the greatest gift you can give anybody, to pray on their behalf.

I especially feel that because I believe in prayer. I pray. I pray for strength, I pray for guidance, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray to offer my thanks for a kind and generous Almighty God.

As Dick [Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] mentioned, we mourn the loss of seven brave souls. We learned a lot about them over the last couple of days, and Laura and I learned a lot about their families in Houston, because we met with them. My impressions of the meeting was that there was — that Almighty God was present in their hearts. There was such incredible strength in the room of those who were grieving that it was overwhelming, to be with those who just lost their husband or wife or dad or mom, and to feel the presence of the Almighty. I attribute it to the fact that they, themselves, are in prayer. And our country prays for their strength. And we must continue to pray for those who suffer and those who grieve.

This is a testing time for our country. At this hour we have troops that are assembling in the Middle East. There’s oppressive regimes that seek terrible weapons. We face an ongoing threat of terror. One thing is for certain: we didn’t ask for these challenges, but we will meet them. I say that with certainty, because this nation has strong foundations that won’t be shaken.

As America passes through this decisive period, there are things we can count on. We can be confident in the character of the American people. The months since September 11, 2001, have not brought fear and fatigue, or rash anger. Instead, we’ve witnessed courage, and resolve and calm purpose. We’ve seen that a new generation of Americans is strong and steadfast in the face of danger, and our confidence will not be shaken.

We can be confident in America’s cause in the world. Our nation is dedicated to the equal and undeniable worth of every person. We don’t own the ideals of freedom and human dignity, and sometimes we haven’t always lived up to them. But we do stand for those ideals, and we will defend them.

We believe, as Franklin Roosevelt said, that men and women born to freedom in the image of God will not forever suffer the oppressor’s sword. We are confident that people in every part of the world wish for freedom, not tyranny; or for peace to terror and violence. And our confidence will not be shaken.

We can also be confident in the ways of Providence, even when they are far from our understanding. Events aren’t moved by blind change and chance. Behind all of life and all of history, there’s a dedication and purpose, set by the hand of a just and faithful God. And that hope will never be shaken.

In this hour of our country’s history, we stand in the need of prayer. We pray for the families that have known recent loss. We pray for the men and women who serve around the world to defend our freedom. We pray for their families. We pray for wisdom to know and do what is right. And we pray for God’s peace in the affairs of men.

May God bless you all.

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