At the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday, President Donald Trump reaffirmed the strong connection between Americans’ faith in God and the nation’s founding ideals.
He also recognized the powerful part prayer played in preserving the life of the event’s keynote speaker, House Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana.
“America is a nation of believers, and together we are strengthened by the power of prayer,” he said to the hundreds of lawmakers, government officials and faith leaders in attendance.
Early in his remarks, Trump proclaimed, “Faith is central to American life and to liberty. Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence.”
“Our rights are not given to us by man; our rights come from our Creator,” he said. “No matter what, no earthly force can take those rights away.”
The president also noted that America’s currency incorporates the nation’s motto, “In God We Trust.” Further, the Pledge of Allegiance includes the words “under God,” which were added during the administration of former President Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s, when the National Prayer Breakfast began.
During his remarks, Trump acknowledged the powerful part prayer played in saving the life of Scalise.
“Your presence reminds us of Jesus’ words in the Book of Matthew. With God, all things are possible,” the president stated as he looked over at the representative, who survived a life-threatening gunshot wound last June at a practice for the annual congressional charity baseball game.
Scalise agreed, telling the breakfast attendees in his keynote address, “(God) is sending us signals every day and he’s sending us signs.”
In his own life, he noticed one such sign in the daily scripture in his church’s missalette for the day of the shooting.
“I got goosebumps when I read the scripture in the missalette for June 14, and I want to read it to you. It’s Psalm 27,” he said.
“The Lord is my light and salvation, whom shall I fear?” Scalise read. “The Lord is the stronghold of my life, whom should I dread? When those who do evil draw near, they stumble and fall.”
The congressman pointed out that is exactly what happened to the shooter, who sought to wreak carnage. “The man who meant to do evil, stumbled and fell by the grace of God,” Scalise said.
During his speech, Trump also highlighted the faith of North Korean defector Ji Seong-ho, who he honored at last week’s State of the Union address.
“Before his escape, when Seong-ho was being tortured by North Korean officials, there was one thing that kept him from losing hope: Over and over again, he recited the Lord’s Prayer,” Trump said. “He prayed for peace, and he prayed for freedom. And now, as you know, Seong-ho is free and a symbol of hope to millions of people all around the world.”
On Thursday, Trump also spoke of 9-year-old Sophia Marie Campa-Peters, who suffers from a rare disease that causes her to suffer regular strokes. The little girl was in attendance at the prayer breakfast.
Fox News reported in January that the president had asked the nation to pray for the young girl ahead of her surgery.
“Today, we thank God that Sophia is with us, and she’s recovering, and she’s walking very well,” he said Thursday. “You may only be 9 years old, but you are already a hero to all of us in this room, and all over the world.”
Trump concluded his remarks saying, “We can all be heroes to everybody, and they can be heroes to us.”
“As long as we open our eyes to God’s grace and open our hearts to God’s love, then America will forever be the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a light unto all nations,” he added.
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