The National Prayer Breakfast hosted on Thursday brought the nation’s leaders together in a moment of reflection, gratitude, and unity. At the Capitol’s visitor center, the event brought leaders together across party lines, and President Joe Biden sat next to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).
According to AP News, it was the first time the event was hosted under new leadership, the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation, a group led by former members of Congress. The event was previously held by a private religious group, but concerns over details of the event, including who was invited and how money was being raised, led lawmakers to take the event under their own leadership.
The president of the new foundation, former Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark), said that they are returning the event “to its origins” in which “House members and Senate members can come together and pray for the president, pray for his family and administration, pray for our government, the world.” He added that he hopes returning to a more intimate gathering, similar to the nondenominational Prayer gatherings on Capitol Hill, will help the event return to its roots.
The prayer breakfast has been an annual tradition since Dwight D. Eisenhower in which each president since has made a speech. This year, President Biden stated, “in our politics and in our lives, we too often see each other as opponents and not competitors. We see each other as enemies, not neighbors. […] And as tough as these times have been, if we look closer, we see the strength, the determination that has long defined America.”
Biden also quoted Scripture saying, “And that joy comes when we apply the commandments of Scripture. ‘Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind, and all thy soul.’ And ‘Love thy neighbor as thy self.’ That’s the hardest one I think. At least it’s hardest here. Didn’t use to be as hard. I’ve been here a long time, but it seems to be getting harder. It’s easy to say; it’s hard to do. But in that commandment lies the essence of faith.”
Although issues of division will always exist, there are also points of agreement that unite America’s leadership and people that will never cease. As America’s leaders put politics aside amid tensions over the debt ceiling and other issues to join in prayer, it is a momentary reminder to all to have gratitude for living in this free, great country.