At a time when Washington seems more divided than ever, a sense of camaraderie, civility and humility pervaded the 66th National Prayer Breakfast.
Congressman Randy Hultgren, a Republican from Illinois, and Democratic Representative Charlie Crist of Florida, co-chaired the event as they do the weekly prayer gatherings on Capitol Hill.
Crist started the proceedings by referring to the Golden Rule. He says he’s worn a rubber bracelet for several years as a reminder that in the acrimonious field of politics, he should treat everyone the way he wants to be treated and the way Jesus wanted all of us to live—fairly and compassionately.
Hultgren said of the weekly gatherings, “We walk in as Republicans and Democrats from different generations, regions and backgrounds. We walk in with our own views but we always walk out with a little more understanding and a little more unified.”
He called the prayer times, including today’s National Prayer Breakfast, a “journey toward civility, reconciliation and love that Jesus taught us.”
Matthew 7:7 Quoted at National Prayer Breakfast
Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, said he is one of 25 to 30 lawmakers who gather from week to week to talk, pray and encourage each other.
He said the prayer times are highly personal as the politicians offer prayer requests for family, their personal lives, staff and their own needs. “It’s a vulnerable thing to say I have needs and I want you to know about it,” Lankford said.
He quipped, “Senators can’t do everything. In fact, we haven’t done much for a while.”
But he suggested that a sense of humility is not prevalent enough in the nation’s capitol reminding the many lawmakers on hand that times of prayer remind us that “we did not create the world but we can stop and talk to the one who did.”
According to Lankford, when lawmakers humble themselves there is a new atmosphere in the halls of power as we “gather with people who others would see as enemies or opponents and to sit down and say let’s try praying together.”
Lankford, who earned a divinity degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, pointed out that just before Jesus gave us the Golden Rule he said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
He suggested we don’t treat each other the way Jesus instructed because we don’t stop to ask, seek and knock.
Lankford then prayed for humility in Washington to ask, seek and knock for guidance while admitting that “we don’t know everything or run everything but we have the chance to talk to the One who does.”
President Donald Trump also spoke at the event. His remarks were a bit of a departure from the earlier comments as he focused on God’s blessing of America and the ways God makes himself known.
“We love God we see the Lord’s grace in service members who risk their lives to give us freedom, in teachers who work tirelessly for our students, in the police who sacrifice to keep us safe and sacrifice they do.”
“All we have to do is open our eyes and look around us and we see God’s hand in the courage of our fellow citizens. We see the power of God’s love at work in our soul and the power of God’s will to answer all of our prayers.”
Perhaps another way God will make himself known is through the answered prayers of a renewed sense of harmony in our nation’s capital.