by Dr. Falwell "It is the duty of nations as well as of men to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, and to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in Holy Scripture, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord." - Abraham Lincoln, March 4, 1865 Abraham Lincoln understood the need for a reliance on God, especially during times of national peril. Our American presidents have a long history of advocating prayer - and even fasting and repentance of national sins - during times of national jeopardy. President George W. Bush carried on that tradition on Thursday, urging Americans to fervently pray for God's guidance as the Columbia tragedy, impending war in Iraq and the ongoing threat of terrorism aimed at America serve as a basis for "a testing time for our country." "One thing is for certain, we didn't ask for these challenges, but we will meet them," Mr. Bush said confidently as he addressed the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. "I say that with certainty because this nation has strong foundations that won't be shaken." "In this hour of our country's history, we stand in the need of prayer," Mr. Bush continued. "We pray for the families that have known recent loss. We pray for the men and women who serve around the world to defend our freedom. We pray for their families. We pray for wisdom to know and do what is right and we pray for God's peace in the affairs of men." The National Prayer Breakfast is a 51-year-old institution that links our nation's lawmakers, military leaders, foreign heads of state and spiritual leaders for a time of encouragement and prayer. I'm sure members of the ACLU cringe every time our leaders meet for the prayer breakfast, but it serves as a wonderful time for our leaders to remember that this is a nation truly indebted to God for our unique freedoms. National Security Director Condoleeza Rice, speaking after President Bush, detailed her religious upbringing. She said that she prayed that God would give the administration the wisdom to lead during this time of testing. "Terror and tragedy," she said, "have made us more aware of our vulnerabilities and mortality. We're living through a time of testing and consequence and pray that our wisdom and will are equal to the work before us." Leading the crowd in prayer, Ms. Rice said, "Let us accept our responsibilities to defend the freedom which we are so privileged to enjoy." Prayer has been such an important part of our nation. Our leaders have understood this throughout the course of our history. Our first president, George Washington, said it is "the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly implore His protection and favor." In 1905, Theodore Roosevelt, said, "No people on earth have more cause to be thankful than ours, and this is said reverently, in no spirit of boastfulness in our own strength, but with gratitude to the Giver of good who has blessed us." In 1982, President Ronald Reagan said, "To preserve our blessed land we must look to God. ... We also have His promise that we could take to heart with regard to our country, that 'If my people, which are called by my name shall humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn form their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.'" No nation on earth has a history of prayer, as does America. It is important that God's people never forget our duty to pray for our leaders (I Timothy 2:1-3). Prayer and political activism are the primary ways in which our Judeo-Christian values - which are constantly being maligned - will be preserved. In keeping with this call to prayer, Liberty University and Thomas Road Baptist Church have accepted the invitation from the National Prayer Committee to serve as hosts of The Nationally Broadcast Concert of Prayer. This year's theme, "Righteousness Exalts a Nation," will call millions of Americans to prayer on May 1, the date President Bush has declared as the National Day of Prayer. Information on this exciting event may be obtained at www.concertofprayer.com. In the meantime, let us recommit to join President Bush in daily prayer for America. And let us recommit to keeping President Bush and his team at the forefront of our daily prayer efforts. It is our duty.