Pastor and author Jim Cymbala urged members of Congress gathered for Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast to humble themselves and seek wisdom from God, who "gives liberally and will never turn anyone away."
The pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City, Cymbala noted that the president, the vice president and members of Congress "all make decisions" that "have the most immense effect on other people's lives." Cymbala was one of the speakers at the annual event. President Biden also spoke.
"You need the Lord. Did you hear me? You need the Lord. Not only I need the Lord – you need the Lord. We all need the Lord," Cymbala told the audience, which was composed of Republicans and Democrats from both chambers of Congress.
The Brooklyn pastor traced the beginning of religion to Genesis 4:26, a verse that says, "people began to call on the name of the Lord." The beginning of religion, he said, was "more important than the discovery of fire, the invention of the wheel, the splitting of the atom."
Cymbala encouraged the nation's leaders to call on God.
"God, because He loves us, delights in His children coming to Him and saying, 'I need help, and I trust you. And I know you're gonna help me,'" Cymbala said. "... [It's] like when our children come to us, [or] our grandchildren, and they say, 'Help me, Papa, help me. I need assistance.' That doesn't put a burden on you. You're delighted to do it. And that's the way God is."
Cymbala also urged legislators to seek wisdom from God.
"The Bible says this: If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives liberally and will never turn anyone away," he said, citing James 1:5. "... If anyone needed to pray for wisdom, isn't that you folks every single day, every single hour? ... You have to humble yourself. Because if you think you have all the wisdom you need, you will never know God's wisdom."
Biden encouraged the Republicans and Democrats in the room to "treat each other with respect."
"In our politics, in our lives, we too often see each other as opponents and not competitors," Biden said. "We see each other as enemies, not neighbors. And as tough as these times have been, if we look closer, we see the strength of determination that has long defined America.
"... We're all imperfect – all imperfect beings. We're fallible. We're frail. We fail. We don't know where and what fate will deliver us and when. But we do know what we can at our best do – seek ... light and hope, a little bit of love and truth. We know that fate and history teach us [that] however dark the night, joy cometh in the morning. And that joy comes when we apply the commandments of Scripture: Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, all thy mind and all thy soul. And love thy neighbor as thyself.
Biden added, "There's so much more that unites us, in my view, so much more that unites us than divides us."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Kevin Dietsch/Staff, President Joe Biden speaking at the National Prayer Breakfast
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.