George W. Bush photo

Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast

February 06, 2003

Thank you all for that warm welcome. Great introduction—[laughter]—especially since you mentioned Laura. [Laughter] I want to thank the Speaker and Leader Pelosi. Ray, I want to thank you very much for being the chairman of the National Prayer Breakfast. I was wondering why the Grace Singers from Peoria managed to get here—[laughter]—but I'm sure glad they did. Thank you all for coming. It might have been the best decision you made, Mr. Chairman. [Laughter]

I want to welcome Michael W. Smith and his wife here. Michael W. is going to have dinner at the White House tonight. We look forward to seeing you both. They've been great friends of Laura and me and my family. It is a treat to have him here, to lend his God-given talents to this important breakfast.

I appreciate the fact that Tenet and Myers will be up here at the head table. It is fitting that in the midst of tough times, that these two leaders are sharing with Scripture and prayer with the country. I appreciate all the Members of Congress here. I pray for your wisdom on a daily basis. [Laughter]

I want to thank all the members of my Cabinet who are here. I really appreciate leaders from around the globe who have come to share in prayer with us today. It reminds me that the Almighty God is a God to everybody, every person.

I really am so honored that Dr. Condoleezza Rice is going to share some comments with you. I know this, that the Reverend John W. Rice, Jr., would be incredibly proud of his wise and gracious daughter.

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, 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, and I pray to offer my thanks for a kind and generous Almighty God.

As Dick 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 the 11th, 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, prefer 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.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:11 a.m. in the International Ballroom at the Washington Hilton. In his remarks, he referred to House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois; entertainer Michael W. Smith and his wife, Deborah; Director of Central Intelligence George J. Tenet; Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Rev. John W. Rice, Jr., father of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice; and Vice President Dick Cheney. The Office of the Press Secretary also released a Spanish language transcript of these remarks.

George W. Bush, Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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