House Speaker Paul Ryan on Thursday knocked America's "growing impatience with prayer" and the feeling that praying is just an abstract notion that amounts to doing nothing.
"I have noticed a growing impatience with prayer in our culture. You see it in the papers or on Twitter. When people say they're praying for someone or something, the attitude in some quarters seems to be, 'Don't just pray; do something about it,'" said Ryan in his welcome remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.
"The thing is, when you are praying, you are doing something about it. You are revealing the presence of God. Whenever people are in grief or even when they're about to start a great undertaking, they feel the worst pain of all: They feel alone. How am I going to get through this? Why is this happening to me? 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" he continued.
Praying in these moments says Ryan is a very helpful and active step.
"That is why there is nothing more comforting — or more humbling, really — than to hear someone say, 'I'm praying for you.' Because when hear you that, you realize, you're not alone. God is there. And hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of people are all speaking to Him on your behalf. They're not praying for some abstract notion. They're praying for you the person," Ryan said.
Pointing to the event itself, Ryan noted that the diverse gathering at the prayer breakfast revealed the important role of prayer in American tradition and said it "should always come first."
"It says a lot about our country that people of both parties — and all faiths — will drop everything and pray for their fellow Americans. What it says is, we believe in the dignity of the individual. And that is why prayer should always come first," the House Speaker said.
Ryan, who is Catholic, also charged politicians at the breakfast to protect the rights of individuals which "come from God."
"We believe our rights come from God, and our job, as officeholders, is to protect those rights. So it is only natural we should ask for His guidance as we seek to do His will," he said.
He further noted that while all Americans believe that prayer should come first, Christians appreciate this truth on a much deeper level because of their faith in Jesus Christ.
"We believe in Jesus Christ. We believe God came down from heaven and became a man — with a name and a body — so we could know him. We could begin to understand. He walked among the poor and lowly of this world so he could raise us to new heights in the next. It is a miracle. It inspires us every day. And that is why we should 'rejoice always'; 'pray without ceasing'; and 'in all circumstances, give thanks,'" he ended.