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Prayer ‘greatest gift’ citizen can give politicians, Bush says

WASHINGTON (BP)–The “greatest gift” an American can give public officeholders is to pray for them, President Bush said Feb. 1 at the National Prayer Breakfast.

The president thanked all those “who lift all of us up in prayer” in an eight-minute speech to legislators, administration officials, foreign diplomats, religious leaders and others who gathered in a Washington hotel ballroom for the 55th annual event.

He also sent a message to the armed forces carrying out the military campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Our troops must understand that every day -– every day -– millions of our citizens lift them up in prayer,” Bush said, according to a transcript provided by the White House. “We pray for their safety; we pray for their families they have left at home; we pray for those who have been wounded, for their comfort and recovery. We remember those who have been lost, and we pray that their loved ones feel the healing touch of the Almighty. During this time of war, we thank God that we are part of a nation that produces courageous men and women who volunteer to defend us.”

Bush gave some examples of Americans informing him of their prayers.

“In my travels, I often see hand-printed signs and personal messages from citizens that carry words of prayer,” the president said. “Sometimes it’s a single little girl holding up a placard that reads, ‘Mr. President, be encouraged; you are prayed for.’ Sometimes it’s a banner held by a group of young people that says, ‘We are praying for you, Mr. President.’”

Many Americans know the ability of prayer to change lives, Bush said.

“[P]rayer makes us a more compassionate and giving people,” the president told the audience. “When we pray, we surrender our will to the Almighty and open ourselves up to His priorities and His touch. His call to love our neighbors as we would like to be loved ourselves is something that we hear when we pray. And we answer that call by reaching out to feed the hungry and clothe the poor and aid the widow and the orphan.”

The National Prayer Breakfast began in 1953 during President Eisenhower’s first administration.

Bush’s remarks may be accessed online at www.whitehouse.gov.

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