Robert Aderholt · Brian Babin · Lisa Blunt Rochester · Charlie Crist · Joe Cunningham · Val Demings · Debbie Dingell · Jeff Duncan · Virginia Foxx · French Hill · Cathy McMorris Rodgers · Juan Vargas · Tim Walberg · Randy Weber
Roy Blunt · John Boozman · Tom Carper · Kirsten Gillibrand · Jim Inhofe · Tim Kaine · Amy Klobuchar · James Lankford · Joe Manchin III
Historically the leadership of our nation has turned to Almighty God for strength and guidance.
In this spirit, the United States Senate and the House of Representatives breakfast groups, which meet to deepen friendships, to pray together, inaugurated the National Prayer Breakfast to specifically seek the Lord's guidance and strength as well as to reaffirm our faith and to renew the dedication of our Nation and ourselves to God and His purposes.
This event in the nation's capital, with members of the Senate and House breakfast groups, seeks to encourage men and women throughout the United States and the world to recognize their privileges and responsibilities before God.
With the desire to deepen the spiritual life and moral fiber of the people through a leadership led by God, there have been, in all fifty states, similar breakfasts inaugurated by governors, mayors and other responsible persons.
As a natural overgrowth of such gatherings, many people throughout the world are finding through the teachings, example, and Spirit of Jesus of Nazareth ways to build relationships which can strengthen the family of nations and further the cause of peace and justice.
Down through the centuries, it has become apparent that great things happen when a few people who love God and love people become bound together in a common commitment with a great love for one another. Ordinary people become extraordinary when such a relationship exists.
In keeping with these precepts, today in many nations small groups of men and women at all levels of society are finding through the principles, precepts and person of Jesus the better way for every day living.
The members of Congress who serve on the honorary host committee for the National Prayer Breakfast are hoping that, through the inspiration of this family gathering of friends from every continent, each participant will be encouraged to become part of a small group of friends in his or her community, and thereby join with others to become part of the solution to problems, rather than continuing only to discuss them.
The gathering you are participating in this morning traces its roots to a local vision. In April of 1935, nineteen business executives in Seattle, Washington, met together to face a critical situation in the life of their city. Looking for ways to deal with the tensions and fractures that often accompany public life, they turned to the 2,000 year-old story of Jesus of Nazareth - at a meal.
According to the Scriptural record in John 21, Jesus invited a few of his friends to join him on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias. At this breakfast he demonstrated the power of God with an abundant catch of fish; the love of God in his reconciliation with Peter who had denied him; and the transcendent importance of people gathering to eat together; fellowship together and pray together.
As the Seattle executives continued to meet regularly, a new vision of a life of usefulness was born. Their resolve grew to serve as agents of reconciliation in their personal lives and in their business communities. A concern for the poor and oppressed people of their city and beyond developed among them.
Over the months and years that followed, as they told others of how much this small group meant to them, other breakfast groups sprang up throughout the state of Washington, southward to San Francisco, eastward to Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston, and then in 1942 to Washington, D.C. Here breakfast groups were founded in the United States Senate and House of Representatives. Today, this simple idea of people meeting together for mutual encouragement and fellowship in order to find "the better way" has become the basis for small groups in over one hundred and eighty countries on every continent.
With the teaching, principles and person of Jesus of Nazareth at the center, this ancient idea has spread spontaneously and at an incredibly rapid rate to meet the long felt need of men and women at all levels of society in our modern world.
People are finding understanding, confidence and hope for the future through a deepening relationship with each other and Jesus and in discovering the secret of true friendship. Friendship that fosters trust and confidence among brothers and sisters committed to the things that count most in life.
When we open our hearts to faith, we fill our hearts with love. Many of the people in this room lead and support the charities and faith-based institutions that bring hope to the lives of our citizens, comfort to those in despair, and solace to those in grief, aid to those in need, and a helping hand to the struggling people all around the world, of which there are so many.
America is a nation that believes in redemption. Every day, the people in this room demonstrate the power of faith to transform lives, heal communities, and lift up the forgotten.
So today, and every day, let us pray for the future of our country. Let us pray for the courage to pursue justice and the wisdom to forge peace. Let us pray for a future where every child has a warm, safe, and loving home. Let us come together for the good of our people, for the strength of our families, for the safety of our citizens, for the fulfillment of our deepest hopes and our highest potential. And let us always give thanks for the miracle of life, the majesty of creation, and the grace of Almighty God.
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. 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. 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," It is, of course, the Golden Rule. It is an ancient rule, a simple rule, but also perhaps 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 or on any issue. Sometimes it asks us to reconcile with bitter enemies or resolve ancient hatreds, and that requires a living, breathing act of faith.
This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and our duty as citizens of the world.
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 are reminded that we are 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 and serve.
The Scriptures tell us we need faith as a source of strength, the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things unseen.
We need our faith as a source of hope. Faith teaches us that each of us is capable of redemption and, therefore, that progress is possible. Not perfection, but progress.
I have always been touched by the living example of Jesus Christ. All the religious leaders of his day were suspicious of him and always tried to trap him because he was so at ease with the hurting, the hungry, the lonely and, yes, the sinners.
In one of the attempts to trick Christ, he was asked what is the greatest commandment. And he answered, quoting Moses, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." And then he added, as we should add, "This is the great and foremost commandment, and the second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself."