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Prayer is a ‘gift from God,’ Bush says at prayer breakfast

WASHINGTON (BP)–Americans “recognize prayer is a gift from God,” President Bush said Feb. 2 at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Addressing an annual event that began in 1953 during President Eisenhower’s first administration, Bush spoke about the meaning and worth of prayer in American life. He told the legislators, foreign diplomats, religious leaders and others who packed a hotel ballroom in the capital such a prayer event was appropriate “because our nation is a nation of prayer. In America, we do not prescribe any prayer. We welcome all prayer.”

Prayer “is a gift that allows us to come before our Maker with heartfelt requests and our deepest hopes,” Bush said, according to a transcript provided by the White House.

“In prayer, we’re reminded we’re never alone in our personal trials or individual suffering,” he said. “In prayer, we offer our thanksgiving and praise, recognizing our lives, our talents and all that we own ultimately flow from the Creator.”

By praying, the president said, “we open ourselves to God’s priority, especially His charge to feed the hungry, to reach out to the poor, to bring aid to the widow or the orphan. By surrendering our will to God’s will, we learn to serve His eternal purposes. Through prayer, our faith is strengthened, our hearts are humbled and our lives are transformed. Prayer encourages us to go out into the world and serve.”

He said Americans by the millions pray daily for the U.S. troops serving overseas, as well as for the wounded and “those who have lost a loved one.” They also pray for the “protection of innocent life” and peace, Bush said.

Americans recognize every citizen can profess any faith he chooses or no faith, the president told the audience. “You are equally American if you’re … a Jew or a Christian or Muslim,” he said. “You’re equally American if you choose not to have faith.”

Bono, lead singer of the rock group U2 and an activist on AIDS and debt relief in Africa, was the keynote speaker at the breakfast.

Bono thanked Bush for helping to combat the spread of AIDS and malaria but repeated his call for the U.S. government to give an additional one percent of its budget to the poor of the world, the Associated Press reported. He described as unjust refusing to relieve debts accumulated by predecessors and withholding drugs that would prevent deaths, according to AP.

“God will not accept that,” Bono said, AP reported. “Mine won’t. Will yours?”

Bush did not comment on Bono’s proposal in his eight-minute speech, which followed the rock singer’s. He commended Bono and told him “the true strength of this country is not in our military might or in the size of our wallet; it is in the hearts and souls of the American people.”

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