Prayer has helped President Bush cope with the stresses of leading the nation, he said Thursday at a breakfast joined by Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"I believe in the power of prayer, because I have felt it in my own life," Bush said at the annual National Prayer Breakfast. "It has helped me meet the challenges of the presidency. I understand now clearly the story of the calm in the rough seas."

Edward "Ward" Brehm, chairman of the United States African Development Foundation and the event's main speaker, praised Bush for his administration's attention to Africa.

"Due to his commitment, and the resulting partnership with Congress, there has been an absolutely historic fourfold increase in American assistance to fight poverty and AIDS in Africa," Brehm said to a standing ovation.

The breakfast is staged without government funding every year by the Fellowship Foundation, an evangelical Christian group. About 2,800 people crowded into the Hilton Washington's International Ballroom for this year's event.

Several foreign leaders attended, including: President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, President Tony Saca of El Salvador, President Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, President Emanuel Mori of the Federated States of Micronesia, and Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi of Samoa.

Lawmakers in the audience also included Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., who sat front and center with McCain, R-Ariz.; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., seated with Pelosi, D-Calif.; and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, at the end of the front row of tables.