WASHINGTON – Hundreds of people from all 50 states and over 160 nations came to the nation's capital for the 61st Annual National Prayer Breakfast. Guests crowded the International Ballroom of the Washington Hilton off of Connecticut Avenue for the Thursday morning event, which featured politicians, musicians, an Olympic gold medalist, President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Attendees of the breakfast described the event as having an aura of inspiration and being a beneficial practice for federal government officials who frequently attack each other in uncivil political debates.
Kathleen O'Connell of Media Fellowship International, a Christian organization that ministers to entertainers and media professionals, told The Christian Post that she found it "inspiring."
"I think it's always inspiring and I come up because it's one of the two times a year that Democrats and Republicans are very civil to each other," said O'Connell.
"But I did wonder the same thing as President Obama afterwards. What happens? So I thought it was great. Andrea Bocelli was amazing."
While being the fourth National Prayer Breakfast that she had attended, O'Connell told CP that she refused to rank them as to which was the best.
"I wouldn't want to compare it like on the basis of an entertainment show because I think there's always something or some moments that are inspiring and it gives you a little bit of a barometer for the pulse of the nation," said O'Connell.
Helen Scott, member of the Healing Hands Health Center, told CP that this was the first National Prayer Breakfast she had attended.
"I thought it was incredible. I was very impressed. This was my first time to attend. I especially liked Dr. Carson's message. I thought he was incredible," said Scott, referring to the message delivered by Dr. Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., author and director of pediatric neurosurgery at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.
Scott also told CP that she felt, as with O'Connell, that events like the breakfast were "extremely important" regarding their effort to bring the two parties together.
"I think it's extremely important. It brings everybody together under one roof with the same common goals. It brings everybody together, unifies us," said Scott.
In addition to the 19-minute speech delivered by President Obama, other political figures also were present in the agenda for the breakfast.
National Prayer Breakfast Co-Chairs Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) did the greeting and welcome, as well as introducing the other speakers.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) read from the Book of Isaiah and former North Carolina Senator Elizabeth Dole read from the Book of Hebrews.
Besides politicians, other notable figures participated in the breakfast. Italian singer Andrea Bocelli performed two songs and U.S. Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas gave the closing prayer.