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‘Time of testing … of intense prayer,’ Bush says on National Day of Prayer

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush described the last month as “another time of testing for America and another time of intense prayer” as he observed National Day of Prayer May 1.

Speaking at the White House, the president said of the weeks since the war in Iraq began, “Americans have been praying for the safety of our troops and for the protection of innocent life in Iraq. Americans prayed that war would not be necessary and now pray that peace will be just and lasting. We continue to pray for the recovery of the wounded and for the comfort of all who have lost a loved one. The Scriptures say: The Lord is near to all who call on him.”

Many Americans have adopted a member of the armed services for prayer during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and some have worn bracelets as reminders to pray for military personnel, he said.

Bush thanked the military chaplains attending the National Day of Prayer observance. “You make a tremendous difference in the lives, the daily lives of people who are frightened and lonely and worried and strong and courageous,” he told them. “I appreciate so very much what you have done and will continue to do.”

His early morning remarks at the White House came on a day in which he declared victory in Iraq as he spoke in the late afternoon from the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in the Pacific Ocean.

During the National Day of Prayer event, Bush said one of the reasons America is strong is “because we know the limits of human strength. All strength must be guided by wisdom and justice and humility. We pray that God will grant us that wisdom, that sense of justice and that humility in our current challenges, and in the years ahead.”

The president described prayer as “an act of generosity” that teaches humility and leads to gratitude. “We find that the plan of the Creator is sometimes very different from our own,” Bush said. “Yet, we learn to depend on His loving will, bowing to purposes we don’t always understand.”

He thanked the participants at the White House observance “for helping to keep prayer an integral part of our national life.”

The president issued a National Day of Prayer proclamation on the day prior to the event. The proclamation may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/04/20030430-22.html.

The White House event was one of thousands held as part of an annual observance that began in 1952. A prayer service featuring religious and government leaders was held in a House of Representatives office building, and times of prayer were set aside in communities and houses of worship throughout the country.

Congress established National Day of Prayer in 1952. In 1988, the first Thursday in May was designated for the annual observance.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: A PRESIDENT IN PRAYER.

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