(Photo: The Christian Post)
WASHINGTON – Hundreds of people from across the United States and an estimated 130 nations came to the Nation's Capital for a prayer service.
The 62nd annual National Prayer Breakfast, organized by members of Congress from different political backgrounds, was held Thursday morning at the Washington Hilton near Dupont Circle.
President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and members of both the House and Senate were in attendance, along with leaders and public figures from abroad.
Attendees at this year's prayer breakfast expressed their positive opinions about the event and the remarks given by various individuals.
Lad Daniels of Florida told The Christian Post that he had been to the prayer breakfast multiple times in the past, along with his wife, Anita.
"We just wanted to come back and just renew our appreciation of how our national leaders can come together in the name of Jesus," said Lad.
"Each one is a special and unique experience of its own. What you get is the same spirit of unity and coming together and the shared experience of Jesus."
Lad also told CP that what made the prayer breakfast special was that "you hear about all the divisiveness and all the fracturing and you come together here and it sort-of goes away."
"It may not go away for long, but it does go away for a time," said Lad, with Anita agreeing and hopeing that the sense of unity will endure long after Thursday.
The keynote speaker for the prayer breakfast was Rajiv Shah, administrator of the United States Agency for International Development.
Shah's speech focused on dealing with "extreme poverty" in the world, noting both the progress being made and the challenges that still remain.
"I want to share an overarching purpose worthy of this room that has come together to follow the teachings of Jesus: Let us work together to end extreme poverty in our lifetime," said Shah.
"We have to put the power of business and science into the hands of those who live their faith and serve this common purpose."
Shah commented that the alleviation of poverty must come from a coordinated effort on the part of governments, businesses and faith communities.
Anita Daniels told CP that she found Shah's focus on the issue of combating extreme poverty "exciting."
"I loved everything he expressed about it and the possibilities," said Anita, who added that having worked in Burma, she agreed with the solutions proposed by Shah.
In addition to remarks by Shah and President Obama, there was a scripture reading by Bethany Hamilton, subject of the biographical film "Soul Surfer." Musical pieces were performed as well by contemporary Christian singer Steve Green and Grammy Award winning singer Yolanda Adams.
Pastor Matthew Roberts of the Genesis Project in Ogden, Utah, said that this was his first time to attend the prayer breakfast.
"Beautiful. Just a beautiful event. Unity and gathering in the name of Jesus is incredible," said Roberts, who attended with his wife.
Roberts also told CP that having politicians pray together is "incredibly important" and "in an uncertain world" the practice is "a great common ground, for sure."
Rachael Taylor, a California guest courtesy the Reverend Carolyn Ransom-Scott of San Francisco, was also attending for the first time.
"Absolutely amazing. I met some wonderful people from all over the world and I believe that with the different alliances that this world can be a better place," said Taylor.
"You got to believe that prayer is a key. It's the way, the truth and the life. I believe that as we continue to do it in prayer, this country and this world, we will all be better off."