Prayer needed for 'testing time,' Bush tells National Prayer Breakfast

WASHINGTON (BP)--America needs prayer at a "testing time for our country," President Bush said at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 6.

The president encouraged an audience of legislators, foreign diplomats, military leaders and religious leaders to pray for the families of the astronauts who died in the Columbia space shuttle Feb. 1 and for the troops who are gathering in the Middle East to prepare for a possible war with Iraq. He also said Americans should be praying for those military families and for the country's leaders.

"We pray for wisdom to know and to do what is right," Bush said. "And we pray for God's peace in the affairs of men."

There are some things Americans can depend on during this time, Bush said.

"We can be confident in the character of the American people," he said. "The months since Sept. 11, 2001, have not brought fear and fatigue or rash anger. Instead, we've witnessed courage and resolve and calm purpose.

"We can be confident in America's cause in the world," the president said. "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 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," Bush said. "And that hope will never be shaken."

The audience for the breakfast included 56 senators, 240 House of Representatives members, as well as First Lady Laura Bush, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers and Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet, according to The Associated Press. The event, in its 51st year, was held in a Washington hotel ballroom.

Such a prayer breakfast is appropriate "because this is a nation of prayer," the president said. "I know, from firsthand knowledge, that this is a nation of prayer. See, I work the rope lines a lot, and I hear all kinds of things on the rope lines. 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, is 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," Bush said. "And I pray to offer my thanks for a kind and generous Almighty God."

The transcript of Bush's nine-minute speech may be accessed at www.whitehouse.gov.


(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: LEADERS LOOK TO GOD.

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