Pastor Rick Warren, of Saddleback Church in California, said this year’s 65th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., on Thursday is particularly important due to how estranged Americans have become following the recent presidential election. More than 3,000 attendees are expected.
“It is actually a bipartisan prayer breakfast, they always have one Republican senator and one Democratic senator who are the co-chairs,” Warren said in a Facebook video.
“I think it is an important thing, particularly right now, after this last election and campaigning, which has really divided America.”
President Donald Trump defeated his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton in the election race on Nov. 8, and since faced numerous large-scale protests on issues of women’s and civil rights, refugees, and appointees, reports Christian Post.
The founder of this annual event was Abraham Vereide, a Norwegian immigrant and Methodist minister, who had the idea to organize and gather with local groups of politicians and businessmen in the mid-1930s to pray and talk before going to work. Vereide was dedicated to addressing the problem of poverty, and used these gatherings as an opportunity to spread the message. In 1942, Vereide moved to Washington, D.C., and started having these prayer groups with members of Congress, and through the connections made through the Congress, the House, Senate, and President all became involved in the event. Since then, other cities around the nation and world have developed their own yearly prayer breakfast.
The observation, which is actually a series of meetings, luncheons and dinners, has taken place since 1953, and has been held at least since the 1980s at the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue NW. The U.S. Congress hosts the National Prayer Breakfast, and the Christian organization, The Fellowship Foundation, organizes the event on their behalf.
Warren, who delivered the invocation when Barack Obama first became president in January 2009, pointed out that Christians are called in the Bible to be peacemakers.
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God,” he said, recalling Jesus Christ’s words in the Sermon on the Mount, as found in the Gospel of Matthew.
“Everybody wants to have peace, but who wants to make peace? Who wants to bring peace? Well, as Christians, we are called to do that,” the Saddleback Church leader emphasized.
“The Bible says that God has given us the ministry of reconciliation, which means we are to bring people of opposite sides together. That’s what Christ did, He brought us unto himself, unto God, even though we were His enemies.”
During last years’ National Prayer Breakfast, former President Barack Obama spoke about the nature of fear and Christ’s power over death.
“My faith tells me that I need not fear death. That the acceptance of Christ promises everlasting life and the washing away of sins,” Obama said at the time. “Faith is the great cure for fear. Jesus is a good cure for fear. God gives believers the power, the love, the sound mind required to conquer any fear.”
The prayer breakfast is designed to also be a forum for building relationships. Since the inception of the National Prayer Breakfast, several U.S. states and cities and other countries have established their own annual prayer breakfast events.
Every U.S. president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the annual event.
Previous keynote speakers include: Bono (2006), former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Academy Award Winner Randall Wallace (2011), Dr. Ben Carson (1997, 2013), and television producer Mark Burnett (2016).
Read more at National Prayer Breakfast 2017: Pastor Rick Warren Says Election ‘Really Divided America’.