Leaders from both political parties joined more than 3,000 pastors, faith leaders and individuals representing 130 countries for the 64th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday morning, with President Barack Obama delivering a message about “fear.”
The signature faith-based event in February of each year is traditionally attended by sitting presidents, first ladies, members of Congress and well-known speakers who collectively come together to discuss the power of faith and to encourage audiences to embrace prayer.
Before the event, organizers placed a small booklet at each attendees seat; it included text from some of the most memorable prayer breakfast speeches that presidents have delivered since the event first kicked off back in 1942.
Included in the booklet was an address by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in which he made his views on the importance of religion in society more than clear.
“You can’t explain free government in any other terms than religious,” he said. “The Founding Fathers had to refer to the creator in order to make their revolutionary experience make sense; it was because ‘all men are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights’ that man would dare to be free.”
He continued, “They wrote their religious faith into our founding documents, stamped their trust in God upon the faces of our coins and currency, and put it boldly at the base of our institutions.”
President John F. Kennedy also expressed his belief that U.S. presidents find themselves appealing to the Almighty to deal with all of the elements that comes along with their complicated position.
“No man who enters upon the office in which I have succeeded, can fail to recognize how every president of the United States has placed special reliance upon his faith in God,” he said. “We must recognize that human collaboration is not enough, that in times such as these we must reach beyond ourselves if we are to seek ultimate courage and infinite wisdom.”
In yet another separate speech, President Lyndon B. Johnson added his belief that man’s embrace of God has helped sustain the nation.
“Since the United States first stood on it feet among the nations of the Earth, the men who have guided her destiny have had the strength for their tasks by going to their knees,” Johnson said. “This private unity of public men and their God is an enduring source of strength for our nation and for our cause.”
President Gerald R. Ford once said during a National Prayer Breakfast speech that “man’s wisdom and strength are not sufficient,” and said that he attempts to practice the words of Proverbs 3:5-6, which he recited as follows: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy path.”
President Jimmy Carter implored the audience to hold on to the elements in life that offer consistency and sustenance, saying that, in a “rapidly changing world, we need to cling to things that don’t change — to truth and justice, to fairness, to brotherhood, to love and to faith.”
Citing ideas that are present in the Christian scriptures, President Ronald Reagan said during his address, “I’m convinced more than ever that man finds liberation only when he binds himself to God and commits himself to his fellow man.”
During his final prayer breakfast address on Thursday, President Barack Obama addressed the topic of fear.
“Like every president, like every leader, like every person, I’ve known fear,” Obama said. “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
Listen to Billy Hallowell report on the National Prayer Breakfast on TheBlaze Radio’s “Pure Opelka.”