My first reaction to the 2021 National Prayer Breakfast was simply hope and surprise at seeing such a wide range of people – from all over the political spectrum – gather to pray and talk about faith. Our modern culture seems determined to put a wall between religious faith and all other aspects of life; that attitude increasingly affects our political, legal, and social culture. To see conservatives and liberals, Democrats and Republicans, speak openly about their faith, about prayer, about turning to God in the midst of difficulties, was a sign of hope.
At the same time, there is an obvious tension. “Faith without works is dead,” the apostle James warned. How do we reconcile seeing leaders speak about faith, say prayers, and quote Scripture when we see them promote public policies irreconcilable with Christian faith? We cannot judge the heart of anyone, we certainly can judge the morality of public actions. While a politician may be personally ignorant, conflicted, confused, or misguided about the incompatibility of Christian faith with his or her policy positions, that does not objectively make the policy position acceptable. Christian faith must produce works becoming of a Christian, works of faith, hope, and love, works that promote good and avoid evil. What do we do when we see public figures profess Christian faith while promoting evil works?
This tension is a good lesson in meeting people where they are: if anyone has the desire to read Scripture, pray, or talk about Jesus Christ, that is a good thing. We need to try to view this, not as an act of hypocrisy, but as a grace from God, a reaching out from God to sinner, inviting that person away from error and into True Faith. If that person is living an imperfect life, a life irreconcilable with Christianity, that needs to be corrected. But that correction starts with grace from God. Participating in the National Prayer Breakfast and reflecting on this tension makes me all the more supportive of the work of Leaders of Faith. There is a need to create community among devout, believing Christians who serve as public figures. There is also a need to work with public figures who profess even a shred of Christian faith, to encourage them to cooperate with that grace and conform their lives to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Leaders of Faith excels at meeting and supporting Christians who serve in government, however much or little the Christian faith is currently a part of their lives.
My final thought is how impressive it was that, in an age and culture that seems to be increasingly post-Christian, such powerful government leaders gathered together and spoke so boldly about Jesus. Not generally about “God” or “a higher power,” but about Jesus Christ. While the speakers at the National Prayer Breakfast differ drastically in denomination, theological beliefs, political philosophy, and how faith affects the way they live, the words and atmosphere were explicitly Jesus-centered. This gives me great hope that, despite the many worrying trends in our culture today, the life and teachings of Jesus Christ are still allowed in our public square. Thank God for that.
By Frank L. DeVito, Esq. Frank is an attorney in the Lehigh Valley who has a strong love for God and others. He graduated summa cum laude from Quinnipiac School of Law in May 2019. He served as the Lead Articles Editor of the Quinnipiac Law Review for the 2018-2019 academic year. The Quinnipiac Law Review published his article entitled “Criminal Protective Orders in Connecticut: The Problem of a Hidden Right” in the Spring 2019 volume. He will begin as an associate at Lesavoy, Butz, & Seitz in August 2019, after taking the Pennsylvania Bar Examination.
The National Prayer Breakfast is an annual gathering in Washington D.C. hosted by members of Congress. They invite guest from around the world to experience on a larger scale of what Members do every week while in session – a non-partisan gathering of prayer, friendship, encouragement from the Scripture around the Person and Work of Jesus.