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Americans are ‘prayerful people,’ president tells prayer breakfast

WASHINGTON (BP)–Americans are a “prayerful people” who have petitioned God many times in the last year, President Bush said at the National Prayer Breakfast Feb. 5.

“We have prayed for the safety of our nation and for those who defend us,” he told an audience of legislators, foreign diplomats, military leaders and religious leaders at the annual event. “We’ve prayed for the families of men and women killed or wounded in conflict, that in grief and trouble, God may be their refuge and their strength. We’ve prayed for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, that they may live in safety and freedom. Many Americans have prayed every day and every week for those in authority, and I thank them for that wonderful gift. And I know you do, as well.”

Americans also have offered prayers of gratitude, the president said. They have thanked God for the “goodness and character of our fellow citizens” since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; the freedom of the United States; and the military personnel who defend this country, Bush said.

The armed forces in Iraq not only have demonstrated courage but compassion, he said. They have repaired hospitals and schools, constructed clinics and soccer fields, and provided for the donation of clothing, books and toys to children, Bush said.

They also have demonstrated the “great American tradition of religious tolerance” in Iraq, the president said. The troops have renovated mosques and been respectful of the practice of Islam by most Iraqis, he said. “Christians and Jews and Muslims have too often been divided by old suspicions, but we are called to act as what we are — the sons and daughters of Abraham,” Bush said.

The president expressed gratitude for the 52-year-old breakfast when “we leave aside the debates of the working day.”

“We recognize our dependence on God and pray with one voice for His blessings on our country,” Bush said. “We’re in the capital of the most powerful nation on earth, yet we recognize the limits of all earthly power. God serves His own purposes and does not owe us an explanation.”

The transcript of Bush’s 10-minute speech, delivered at a Washington hotel ballroom, may be accessed at www.whitehouse.gov.

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