Sens. Lankford, Coons: National Prayer Breakfast – We can heal our deeply divided nation through prayer

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“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jeremiah 29:12)

For 67 years, the National Prayer Breakfast has united nations, religions, ethnicities, and even political parties in a celebration of prayer and common humanity. At a time when Washington and our nation are deeply divided, the annual breakfast is an opportunity to set aside political differences, unite around our shared values, and move closer to healing some of the deep divisions in our country.

This year is no different. We expect more than 3,500 guests from 150 countries and all 50 states to come together for the breakfast on Thursday.

As a Democrat from Delaware and a Republican from Oklahoma, we are honored to serve as the co-chairs of this year’s event. We cheer for different football teams and have different political views, but we share a close friendship rooted in faith and our common commitment to religious liberty.

FOR PEOPLE AND FOR A COMMUNITY TO FLOURISH, FAITH AND THE CHURCH IS NEEDED

In a Congress that often seems more divided than the country we serve, we have learned how to put partisan politics aside. We both participate in the weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, where every Wednesday morning, two dozen senators – Republicans and Democrats – from a wide range of ideologies and faith backgrounds gather to pray. For at least one hour each week, we talk about personal stories, sing songs of faith, and pray for our nation and our families.

Praying together doesn’t solve everything, but as we’ve often said, it is much harder to throw a rhetorical punch at someone on the Senate floor when you’ve held hands in prayer that morning.

Now, as honorary co-chairs of the 67th annual National Prayer Breakfast, we hope all Americans will join us in celebrating an event that focuses on the same goal: uniting people in prayer and striving toward greater healing, hope and humility.

Let all of us, Republicans and Democrats, Americans and friends from around the world and of all faiths, answer prayer and come together. Only by choosing to listen to each other and pray together for our future can we truly heal our divisions.

During this breakfast, we will pause as a nation to pray for our leaders, our families and our friends. We will pray for strength, discernment and grace for the international leaders and dignitaries assembled. We will pray for the President, the Vice President, the Cabinet and the military.

We will demonstrate that in the United States, religious freedom is not characterized only by the worship service one might attend on the weekend, but also by the act of living our faiths openly and freely together.

In our nation, we are free to worship – or not – as we choose. We are free to live out our faith, underscored by the inalienable right of all people to do the same.

This Thursday, the National Prayer Breakfast will unite our nation in prayer. We ask you to join us – over the airwaves or in person – to pray for our nation, our leaders, and for leaders around the world. We hope you will be inspired to put your faith into action, whether by helping those most in need in your own communities, or those facing violence and persecution around the world.

We know that one event won’t heal all our divisions overnight, but if we invest ourselves in what this day is about – remembering that we are one and that we rise and fall together – the impact can be transformative.

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Psalm 65:2 tells us, “You who answer prayer, to you all people will come.”

Let all of us, Republicans and Democrats, Americans and friends from around the world and of all faiths, answer prayer and come together. Only by choosing to listen to each other and pray together for our future can we truly heal our divisions.

Democrat Chris Coons represents Delaware in the United States Senate.