Thank you, Jimmy [Gregory]. As usual, you and your team have done a wonderful job putting this event together.
It's always a treat to spend the morning with fellow believers, coming together to testify about the awesome power of prayer.
We gather here today in a world that's a little bit different than the one we all awoke to Sunday morning.
The actions of a determined and courageous few Sunday night in Pakistan removed an enemy of peace from our world, a twisted soul who hijacked a faith as surely as his minions hijacked four airliners on a crisp September morning nearly 10 years ago.
While we all know al Qaeda in particular, and terrorism in general, won't end with the death of one terrorist, this weekend marked a milestone in our ongoing struggle with the specter of global terror.
The events in Pakistan also provided some well-deserved justice for bin Laden's victims the world over.
As we say our prayers today, and every day, we must remember the military and intelligence communities, who have worked so hard and risked so much, to bring an end to this man's murderous reign.
We must also ask that the Lord keep our military men and women, and our fellow citizens safe from retaliation in the weeks and months ahead.
Every year, the National Day of Prayer is an important reminder about what's truly important, and - given some of the events we've experienced just over the last few weeks - perhaps this day is even more important this year.
Here in Texas, hundreds of families have found their lives up-ended, their homes, their farms, and their ranches scorched by rampant wildfires, with more than 2 million acres of our state burned so far.
Throughout the southeast, and especially in Alabama, hundreds of people perished, and thousands more lost everything, when an outbreak of violent tornadoes of a ferocity we haven't seen in generations wiped away entire communities in the blink of an eye.
The truth is, we live in a world where the inexplicable happens, sometimes with a deadly finality.
At times like these, we pray to seek God's wisdom, we pray for his comfort, and we pray of the souls of those we've lost.
We don't presume to understand the reasons why things happen. That's not for us.
Through prayer, however, we can express our unity of spirit, exercise our personal connection with a higher power, and come to peace with our meager place in this universe.
The truth is, some just don't understand the nature of prayer.
When they see us pray, they think we're just dialing up God and requesting goods and services or giving Him marching orders to suit our whims.
As they see it, if God doesn't do as He's told, our prayers are futile, a wasted effort.
As you and I know, that's pretty much the complete opposite of what prayer is about.
Prayer is about a personal connection with God. It's about expressing our own humility. It's about conveying our fates, and the fates of our fellow man into God's hands.
In short, it's about faith.
And, as Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians [5:7] we live by faith...not by sight.
Whether we're praying for rain, shelter from the storm, or justice from terrorist attacks nearly a decade ago, the answers we seek aren't always given as quickly as we like - or in a fashion we can necessarily understand.
However, those of us who pray regularly, who pray fervently, who pray humbly ... We see the benefits of prayer every single day of our lives.
We see the benefits with a clarity that is truly lost on those who choose not to understand.
Prayer brings us closer to the Divine. It brings a depth and a meaning to our lives. It compounds our happiness in times of joy and eases our pain in times of sorrow.
Prayer is symbolic of the connection of faith that links Creator and created.
Prayer provides assurance that those we've lost aren't truly lost, rather, delivered into the hands of the Lord, sheltered by their faith, nurtured by a lifetime of prayer and returned to the Blessed Kingdom of God.
Prayer also inspires.
It inspires us to live our lives well. To make the right choices.
It informs our minds, as it enriches our souls.
Far from a one-way radio to our Holy Father, prayer is a communion, a simple act that betters us, even if we're not aware of it at the time.
Whatever your faith, a belief in a Higher Power challenges you, makes you work harder to be a better person, leader and citizen.
Those of you may remember Paul's first letter to Timothy, a letter that included some pretty direct instructions on how to carry on and live a life right.
It's advice we all should follow.
As Paul wrote [6:11-12]...
...pursue righteousness...godliness...faith...love...endurance and gentleness....
...Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
Prayer reaffirms our dedication to those values.
So, today and in the days to come, let's pray with grace and humility, knowing God's designs are often beyond our comprehension.
Let's pray for the families of those who lose loved ones in the tornadoes of 2011.
Let's pray for the firefighters we lost recently battling the wildfires across our state, and for those who stand ready to risk their lives the next time disaster strikes.
Let's pray for rain, to cut down on the danger of those fires and provide relief for drought-stricken farmers and ranchers throughout Texas.
Let's pray for our state, that our economy will sustain its edge in these tough times, and our people will be safe from harm.
Let's pray for our nation, that those who struggle with joblessness will find provision through employment.
Let's pray for the men and women of our armed forces who risk their lives that we might live free.
Let's pray that the Lord will keep all of us safe from evil forces, and whatever terrorist organizations are developing in retaliation for the loss of bin Laden.
Let's pray for our clergy, that they will be inspired of God as they lead their flocks to greater unity and action for their neighbors.
Let's pray for our leaders at every level, from the school board members who guide our children, to the sheriffs who guard our borders, to the President of the United States.
On this National Day of Prayer, know that we stand together in our love of God and our hope for this great nation.
Now, I'd like to present Cindi [Vana, Texas State Prayer Coordinator] with this proclamation celebrating this glorious day. Cindi?
Thanks again, Cindi, and thank all of you for being here, standing up for what you believe in.
May God bless you, and, through you, may He continue to bless the Great State of Texas.