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Prayer means more than ever to America in this time of war

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- This month, people all across this country gather to honor one of the traditions of American life: to pray and break bread together. 

This simple American tradition has played a large part in our national life and it's one we continue through our National Prayer Breakfast. 

It was the pursuit of the freedom to gather and pray as they wished that led the first settlers to our shores.  And throughout our nation's history, Americans have relied on prayer for guidance in every instance of national crisis. 

The first Continental Congress issued the first proclamation for a National Day of Prayer in 1775, asking for wisdom and guidance from the Creator as they decided the best course in creating what eventually would be our new nation.  During the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a National Day of Prayer in 1863, asking, "that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings."   

In 1942, in the dark days just after Pearl Harbor, prayer breakfast groups were started by both houses of Congress.  In the midst of a terrible world war, these congressmen and senators considered it a real help to gather and pray together about any problem on which they felt they needed guidance. 

It was ten years later, in 1952, by joint resolution of Congress that the recognition of a National Day of Prayer began.  And this week, Americans gathered for the 56th time since then to continue this fine tradition of national prayer. 

This tradition of prayer says much about the character of our people.  I can think of nothing more inspiring than Americans of all faiths coming together in fellowship for a single purpose, to pray for their country. 

One thing is certain: in this time of war, now is a good time to pray. For our service members in harm's way, let us pray for their protection.  For our leaders, as they make momentous decisions, let us pray for their wisdom.  And for ourselves, let us pray that we always remember we are one humanity, and that love is both the source and the lesson of all of our various faiths. 

Regardless of your religious affiliation, perhaps now is a great time to consider taking a few moments from the hustle and bustle of life to reflect and pray.  It's been said that while prayer cannot bring water to parched fields, mend a broken bridge, or rebuild a ruined house, it can water an arid soul, mend a broken heart, and rebuild a weakened will. Prayer is a source of great solace for many millions of people and, in this time of war, the National Prayer Breakfast remains a terrific reminder of the power of prayer.