Rev. Julia Metcalf attends National Prayer Breakfast

Rev. Julia Metcalf attends National Prayer Breakfast

Rev. Julia Metcalf

On the first Thursday in February, over 1,500 guests gathered in Washington, D.C., for the National Prayer Breakfast. This is an event that has been occurring since the 1930s and formalized by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1953. This year, I had the privilege and honor of being invited and attending, and I joined brothers and sisters from over 100 countries in prayer.

Although a distinctly Christian event, attendees come from all different faith backgrounds, but are united around the person and work of Jesus Christ. The hope and desire is to find unity in diversity (a principle stated in our PC(USA) Book of Order, in fact), and to build relationships across place, position, power and politics in order to walk hand in hand into a future filled with hope, love, peace and faith.

The event began on Wednesday evening with a welcome dinner and a slate of speakers. Jim Slattery, a former United States representative opened the evening with the words of Abraham Lincoln who said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” Kathy McMorris-Rogers, a current U.S. representative, reminded us that, “only a house built by God will stand,” and to submit all that we are facing in our lives, country, and world into the hands of God.

The next morning at the prayer breakfast, President Joe Biden encouraged us that there is much hope to be had through our faith and to stand firm in that hope. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, through a recorded presentation, gave a moving speech on the importance of faith in times of immense challenge and loss. This particular prayer breakfast had a record attendance of congressional members, and Senator Amy Klobuchar shared that, “faith is alive and well on the hill.”

“Faith is alive and well on the hill.”
– Senator Amy Klobuchar

At the international lunch later that day, we had the privilege of hearing from Queen Rania Al Abdullah, queen consort of Jordan. She and her husband, King Abdullah, are both Muslim and yet spoke with respect and admiration for Jesus Christ. Queen Rania left the crowd speechless after a moving presentation on finding a way forward that is not divisive, but rather joins hands across the divide, through which we find a way forward together that is full of possibility and hope.

Other speakers from the event included Dr. David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Programme for the UN, King Abdullah II of Jordan, Dr. David Anderson, Benazir Bhutto, and various former and current congress people.

Every single person that took the stage stood in a love for Jesus and shared about the importance of prayer. The collective encouragement was that there is more that unites us than divides us. The collective hope for not only those in attendance, but for all of us, is to climb into this way of seeing one another with more in common than we have in difference. It is with this posture that we can cultivate radical compassion for one another, open-handedness to listen and learn, and a desire to find a “third way” that is not about winning or losing but about justice and peace. All of this we must do with a humble stance of prayer and surrender to the God who shows us how to love our neighbor as ourselves.

About the author: Rev. Julia Metcalf oversees the Next Generation Ministry. She is a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary where she received a Master of Divinity in 2020. She is very interested in the spiritual disciplines and how they can enrich our faith journeys, as well as what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ looks like for both young and old. Julia serves on the board of directors of Camp Loughridge and serves as a mentor to the Oklahoma Student Leadership Forum.