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Mr. McINTYRE. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you Congressman Forbes, Randy, for your friendship and your leadership, undying, uncompromising leadership to help the Congressional Prayer Caucus be the great spiritual force and practical legislative force that it is in its witness and its work.
And I'm thrilled to join my colleague, Congressman Forbes, and my other colleagues from both sides of the aisle who meet regularly for the Congressional Prayer Caucus, and particularly this week, as we get ready for the National Prayer Breakfast coming up this Thursday.
Many Americans don't realize that this is a tradition that has gone on now for many years. In fact, this will be the 61st National Prayer Breakfast coming up this Thursday morning. I hope folks back home will tune in.
This has happened every single year since President Eisenhower, by every single President; and we are excited that the President and First Lady will be with us again, as they have been the last four years, and that this will be a time to see about 3,000 people from around the world gather together from about 140 nations to come and ask God's blessings and wisdom as we begin this new Congress in this new year.
But let me say in even a broader context, as Congressmen Forbes and Pearce have indicated, the Congressional Prayer Caucus is to carry on that, that in addition to supporting the National Prayer Breakfast this Thursday is to carry it on throughout the year and to affirm our commitment to maintaining and strengthening our great country's religious freedom.
Through the more than 200-year history of our Nation, we know that faith, prayer, and trust in God have played a vital role in strengthening the fabric of our society. We are incredibly blessed to live in a country that was founded on the bedrock of faith and allowing our citizens to worship freely and without fear of persecution, which is guaranteed by our Constitution.
Our Founding Fathers knew the importance of faith to the success of our infant democracy and affirmed it in the Declaration of Independence, declaring that our unalienable rights that we love to talk about as Americans, our rights of life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, are endowed to us by our Creator.
Indeed, faith was so integral to our new government that on Tuesday, September 6, 1774, the very first act of the first Continental Congress was to pause and join together in prayer. So this tradition doesn't just go back 61 years as we celebrate with the National Prayer Breakfast this week; it goes back to the very beginning of the first Continental Congress.
It's from these historic underpinnings that our Nation has grown and thrived, and we stand here today on the shoulders of those Americans who stood up and boldly fought for our rights to practice our faith freely. And we must never grow complacent, as Congressman Forbes pointed out, in some of the specific areas that we've had some issues recently. It's our duty to defend and protect the rights of all Americans, especially in a place like the U.S. Capitol, where we ought to be able to gladly recognize what our Nation's religious heritage has been.
Today we face many serious challenges as a Nation, and it's never been more important that we join together to ask God for guidance in making the right decisions. And that's why, during the first vote each week, we gather right across the hall here during that first vote, if it's on Monday night or Tuesday night or sometimes even the middle of the week on Wednesday, but when we gather during that first vote to step across the hall, leave party labels at the door and ask God, like Solomon did in the Old Testament, for wisdom for that week for those decisions that we make.
We hear so much about partisanship. And having gone through an election recently that partisanship was in its full glory, I think it's reassuring to the citizens of this country to know that there are those of us who do want to reach across the aisle and who realize that faith and prayer transcends the partisan divide that we too often hear about here in Washington.
We pray together each week because we recognize, as our Founders did, that the true source of power is not found in the Halls of Congress or in the Oval Office of the West Wing or in the Chambers of the Supreme Court, but on our knees before the throne of grace before Almighty God. And it's with that bold truth in mind that we gather this week with thousands of people of faith during the National Prayer Breakfast. And it's in this spirit that Members of this body gather every week just across the hall in room 219 to reaffirm our trust in God and recognize the profound reconciling power of prayer and to ask God for His grace and His guidance.
I hope for those of you who are here in this Chamber and those who may be listening back home that you will join us, particularly this week, as we pray for God's blessing upon our Nation, for His will to be done throughout the world, for His peace to dwell in all of us, His children, as we gather for the National Prayer Breakfast. But I also hope you'll go to a Web site beyond this week, the Congressional Prayer Caucus Web site, and say, Yes, Mike, yes, Randy, yes, we do want you, men and women up there, to make the right decisions, you better believe it, because our country is that important, our future is that important, and we do want to make sure that we go forth as one Nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.
With that, I will also submit a copy of a prayer from Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and, as we know, our third President, and pray that God's blessings will be upon this great Nation, not only this week during the National Prayer Breakfast, but with the work of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and those of you who will join us back home, individually, through your families, your churches, your places of worship, your fellowship groups or prayer groups, that you too will join us in making sure that we are building a wall of prayer around our Nation's Capitol, just as Nehemiah built the wall in the Old Testament.
Almighty God, Who has given us this good land for our heritage; we humbly beseech Thee that we may always prove ourselves a people mindful of Thy favor and glad to do Thy will. Bless our land with honorable ministry, sound learning, and pure manners. Save us from violence, discord, and confusion, from pride and arrogance, and from every evil way. Defend our liberties, and fashion into one united people, the multitude brought hither out of many kindreds and tongues. Endow with Thy spirit of wisdom those whom in Thy name we entrust the authority of government, that there may be justice and peace at home, and that through obedience to Thy law, we may show forth Thy praise among the nations of the earth. In time of prosperity fill our hearts with thankfulness, and in the day of trouble, suffer not our trust in Thee to fail; all of which we ask through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
With that, Mr. Speaker, I pray God's blessings upon our Nation, and I yield back to our great leader and co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman Forbes.
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