[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[February 5, 1998]
[Pages 172-173]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast
February 5, 1998

    Thank you very much. Thank you very much to my good friend and 
sometimes golfing partner, Senator Akaka, to 
all the Members of Congress here, Reverend Graham, other head table guests, ladies and gentlemen, 
especially to the organizers of this wonderful event.
    For 5 years now, Hillary and I have looked forward to this day. For 
me it's a day in which I can be with other people of faith and pray and 
ask for your prayers, both as President and as just another child of 
God. I have done it for 5 years, and I do so again today.
    At each of these breakfasts, from our shared experiences and our 
prayers, God's grace always seems to come, bringing strength and wisdom 
and peace. Today I come more than anything else to say thank you. First, 
thank you, Connie Mack, for your wonderful 
message and the power of your example. I also thank all of you here for 
many things in the last 5 years and ask your help in helping us to work 
together to make our Nation better and the work that God has sent me to 
do and you to do.
    I thank you for helping me to strike blows for religious liberty--
with the work so many of you in this room have done to help us to 
protect the rights of Federal employees to follow their faith at work--
our students in school. In particular, I want to thank Reverend Don 
Argue, the former president of the National 

[[Page 173]]

of Evangelicals, and Rabbi Arthur Schneier 
and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Newark, Theodore 
McCarrick, who next week will go to 
China to look into religious practices there and to begin a dialog there 
in the hopes that a part of our relationship with China will be about 
our concern for the kind of religious liberty we have practiced here 
this morning.
    I thank so many of you in the community of faith who have worked 
with the Government in partnership to help move poor families from 
welfare to work, to honor the scripture that our friend Dorothy 
Height read today. And I ask more of you to 
join in. I thank those of you who have been responsible for working with 
me--and I see Senator Grassley out there 
and Harris Wofford is here--to bring 
communities of faith into the circle of national service.
    We now have 5,000 young Americans working with religious 
organizations earning the AmeriCorps scholarship to go to college with 
after they serve with their community of faith wherever they live in 
America. And the Congress has provided for many more positions, and I 
ask you to help us to enlist more young Americans to give meaning to 
their lives, to live out their faith, and to help make our country a 
better place.
    I thank you for the prayers, the letters, the scriptural instruction 
that I have gotten from so many of you and many others around this 
country in recent weeks and, indeed, in the last 5 years. And I ask that 
they continue.
    Finally, I couldn't help thinking when Connie Mack was talking that 
what we all need very much is to take what we feel when we're here every 
year and keep it close with us when we leave here every year, day-in and 
day-out, week-in and week-out, in good times and bad. And I ask for your 
help in that.
    We have a difficult decision that we are facing now, as a country 
and our administration, because of the concern all Americans have that 
we not expose our children, if we can help it, to the dangers of 
chemical and biological warfare. And last night I came across a 
scripture verse that a friend of mine sent me in the last 72 hours that 
I had not had the chance to read, a prayer of King Solomon that I ask 
you to keep in mind as we face this decision. Solomon said in 1 Kings, 
``I am only a little child, and I do not know how to carry out my 
duties. Your servant is here among people you have chosen, a great 
people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a 
discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right 
and wrong, for who is able to govern this great people of yours.''
    I also ask for your prayers as we work together to continue to take 
our country to higher ground and to remember the admonition of Micah, 
which I try to repeat to myself on a very regular basis. I ask your 
prayers that I, and we, might act justly and love mercy and walk humbly 
with our God.
    Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 9:11 a.m. in the International Ballroom at 
the Washington Hilton Hotel. In his remarks, he referred to evangelist 
Rev. Billy Graham; Senator Connie Mack; Rev. Don Argue, president, 
National Association of Evangelicals; Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president, 
Appeal of Conscience Foundation; and Dorothy Height, chairman of the 
board, National Council of Negro Women.