the 51st Annual National Prayer Breakfast
The Washington Hilton
February 6, 2003
8:11 A.M. EST
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. (Applause.) 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 and applause.)
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. (Applause.)
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
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.