For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
May 1, 2003
President Delivers Remarks on the National Day of Prayer
The East Room
7:47 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thanks for coming, thanks for the warm welcome. I'm glad you're here at the people's house. Laura and I welcome you, we're really pleased to have you here. I want to thank each of you for participating in the National Day of Prayer. It's a good time to be praying -- every day is a good day to pray. (Laughter.)
Today we recognize the many ways our country has been blessed, and we acknowledge the source of those blessings. Millions of Americans seek guidance every day in prayer to the Almighty God. I am one of them. I also know that many Americans remember Laura and me in their prayers, and we are so very, very grateful.
I want to thank General Hicks, Chaplain of the entire U.S. Army, for being here today, and thank you for your service. Shirley, thank you, as well, for once again being the Chairwoman of the National Day of Prayer. I see your brought your husband along, too. (Laughter.)
Luis, muchas gracias, thank you for your beautiful prayer. Father Joe Wallroth is going to be with us in a second; I'm honored you are here, Father.
I really want to thank the Washington National Cathedral Choir of men and girls, it is a fabulous way to begin a morning, to walk down the corridor here and hear your beautiful voices echo throughout this magnificent house. We're really glad you're here, and thank you for -- thank you for sharing your talents.
Julie, thank you, as well, for coming. Gosh, I could have sat here and listened all day to your singing. (Laughter.)
We've got a lot of military chaplains who are here. I want to thank you for your service to your country and to those who wear the uniform. You make a tremendous difference in the lives, the daily lives of people who are frightened and lonely and worried and strong and courageous. I appreciate so very much what you have done and will continue to do.
So many great events in our nation's history were shaped by men and women who found strength and direction in prayer. The first President to live in this house composed a prayer on his second evening here for all who would follow him. Our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln, knew that his burdens were too great for any man, so he carried them to God in prayer. Over the radio on D-Day in 1944, Franklin Roosevelt prayed for God's blessing on our mission to "set free a suffering humanity."
This past month has been another time of testing for America and another time of intense prayer. 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. Calling on God in prayer brings us nearer to each other. After his son was rescued from northern Iraq, the father of Sergeant James Riley of New Jersey said, "We have been flooded with people's prayers. Everyone is praying for us and we are so grateful."
During Operation Iraqi Freedom, many Americans have registered online to adopt a serviceman or woman in prayer. Others wear prayer bracelets to remind themselves to intercede on behalf of our troops. In Fountain City, Wisconsin, Lynn Cox has collected at least 80 bibles to send to those serving in Iraq. In Green, Ohio, a group of parishioners at Queen of Heaven Catholic Church has made 2,000 rosaries for our troops. Margaret Brown, who helped start the group, said, "We want them to know that someone back here is holding them up in prayer, and that God is so powerful He can supply all their needs."
To pray for someone else is an act of generosity. We set our own cares aside and look to strengthen another. Prayer teaches humility. We find that the plan of the Creator is sometimes very different from our own. Yet, we learn to depend on His loving will, bowing to purposes we don't always understand. Prayer can lead to a grateful heart, turning our minds to all the gifts of life and to the great works of God.
Prayer can also contribute to the life of our nation. America is a strong nation, in part 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.
I thank you all for helping to keep prayer an integral part of our national life. May God bless each one of you, and may God continue to bless the United States of America. (Applause.)
END 7:55 A.M. EDT