Prayer Breakfasts – Jimmy Carter
National Prayer Breakfast Remarks at the Annual Breakfast.
January 27, 1977
Jim Wright’s comments made me proud to be a brother with him, to be an American, to be a child of God. And I think what he said exemplifies the finest aspirations of those who are assembled here this morning.
Jim, I thank you for what your talk meant to me. The first time I came to this prayer breakfast was in 1967. One of the Christian attributes to which many have referred this morning is one that I had in great abundance then, more than I do now–and that’s humility. I had just been defeated in my first campaign for Governor.
I thought, in response to some of the things Jim said, I would talk about humility this morning.
The first draft of my Inaugural speech did not include the reference to Micah’s admonition about justice and mercy and humility. But I had chosen instead First [Second] Chronicles, 7: 14, which Congressman Wright quoted this morning: “If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from Heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.”
When my staff members read the first draft of my speech they rose up in opposition to that verse. The second time I wrote my Inaugural draft I had the same verse in it. And they came to me en masse and said, “The people will not understand that verse. It’s as though you, being elected President, are condemning the other people of our country, putting yourself in the position of Solomon and saying that all Americans are wicked.”
So, correctly or wrongly, I changed it to Micah. And I think this episode, which is true, is illustrative of the problem that we face. Sometimes we take for granted that an acknowledgment of sin, an acknowledgment of the need for humility permeates the consciousness of our people. But it doesn’t. But if we know that we can have God’s forgiveness as a person, I think as a nation it makes it much easier for us to say, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” knowing that the only compensation for sin is condemnation. Then we just can’t admit an error or a weakness or a degree of hatred or forgo pride. We as individuals–and we as a nation–insist that we are the strongest and the bravest and the wisest and the best. And in that attitude, we unconsciously, but in an all-pervasive way, cover up and fail to acknowledge our mistakes and in the process forgo an opportunity constantly to search for a better life or a better country.
Paul Tillich said that religion is a search for a closer relationship with God and our fellow man, and when we lose the inclination to search, to a great degree we lose our own religion.
As those of us who are Christians know, the most constantly repeated admonition from Christ was against pride. Sometimes it’s easier for us to be humble as individuals than it is for us to admit that our Nation makes mistakes.
In effect, many of us worship our Nation. We politicians, we leaders, in that sometimes excessive degree of patriotism, equate love of others with love of ourselves. We tend to say that, because I am a Congressman, because I am a Governor, because I am a Senator, because I am a Cabinet member, because I am President of the people, and because I love the people and because I represent them so well, then I can justify their love myself. We tend to take on for ourselves the attributes of the people we represent. But when the disciples struggled among themselves for superiority in God’s eyes, Jesus said, “Whosoever would be chief among you, let him be His servant.” And although we use the phrase, sometimes glibly, “public servant,” it’s hard for us to translate the concept of a President of the United States into genuine servant.
Another theologian that I read very often, who could penetrate the pride of a nation in the most effective way in trying to analyze what democracy was, said a kind of prideful thing. But I think it brings to us a consciousness of our own capability. He said: “Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s capacity for injustice make democracy necessary.”
If we, as leaders of our Nation, can search out and extract and discern and proclaim a new spirit, derived not from accumulated goodness or badness of people, which is only equal to individual goodness or badness–not even to the noble concept of our Nation, which is superlative, without doubt–but from the ultimate source of goodness and kindness and humility and love–and that’s from God–then we can indeed be good leaders and servants. We can indeed be strong enough and sure enough to admit our sinfulness and our mistakes. We can indeed be constantly searching for a way to rectify our errors and let our Nation exemplify what we as individuals ought to be in the eyes of God. But that’s a hard thing to do.
One of the books that made a great impression on me was “The Ugly American,” written a number of years ago, about people from our own country who, in a sense of unwarranted superiority, would travel around the world and despise others in an ostentatious way because they were not Americans.
I haven’t traveled as much as I would like–10 or 12 foreign countries. But I’ve seen in my own travels a respect of us, a respect for our Nation because of the same vision of our forefathers that has inspired us, but at the same time, quite often a deep sense of disappointment that we don’t live up to those original hopes and expectations and ideals.
Not too long ago I was in South America with my wife, and we had a chance to learn at first hand about the deep sense of religion there. We saw the impact of our own missionaries, when people could speak fluent English because missionaries have been there. And an elevator operator in Manaus, Brazil, and I visited the equivalent of their Speaker of the House, and that evening in his home we spent time on our knees worshipping the same God.
I preached one evening in a church in Rio de Janeiro, and a couple of years later my wife and I were in what’s thought to be the tomb of Christ, by ourselves, and a woman came up behind me and looked at me in a strange way and said, “Don’t I know you from somewhere?” I said, “No, ma’am, I don’t think so.” She said, “I think you preached in my husband’s church in Rio.” It was the pastor’s wife.
A sense of communion that we can have under God throughout the world .ought to convince us that we are not superior, that we ought constantly to search out national and human individual consciousness and strive to be better, which doesn’t mean more powerful and autocratic, but more filled with love and understanding and compassion and humaneness and humility.
But in the last week, my wife and I and Vice President Mondale and Joan have shaken hands with literally thousands of people–Members of Congress and the diplomatic corps, and people who worked with us in the campaign, and distinguished visitors from around-the last receiving line we met was of the military officers of our country, from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff down through a very large representative group of enlisted persons.
And afterwards, one of the news people who had their cameras focused on us all the time said, “Have you noticed any difference among the receiving line groups?” And I said, “Yes, I have, a very strange difference. My wife and I both noticed it. A tremendous and startling proportion of the military people, when they passed by me, said, God be with you. We remember you in our prayers much more from the military, the symbol of our Nation’s strength, than from any other group, all fine people.”
So, a search for peace, I believe, can only be successful if we recognize the commonality of the aspirations of human beings throughout the world and if we remember that cumulative humility ought never to be equated to dominant national pride.
National Prayer Breakfast Remarks at the 26th Annual Breakfast.
February 2, 1978
You may have noticed that the chairman of this breakfast and the master of ceremonies is Senator Jim Allen of Alabama. You may have noticed that our main speaker is Max Cleland from Georgia. You may have noticed that the President is Jimmy Carter from the same State. And there may be some concern among those among you about the secret to the South’s growing influence.
I might point out one coincidental piece of evidence in that the very fine Blackwood Quartet had six members in it. I think up North a quartet still has four members. [Laughter]
It’s been a wonderful program. And it’s almost anticlimactic for anyone to try to follow Max Cleland, who in his own life and in his .own words gives us a testimony of what true faith can be and the closeness of God means to us.
To me, God is real. To me, the relationship with God is a very personal thing. God is ever-present in my life—sustains me when I am weak, gives me guidance when I turn to him, and provides for me as a Christian through the life of Christ, a perfect example to emulate in my experiences with other human beings.
My wife and I worship together every night, and often during the day I turn to God in a quiet and personal way.
A few months back, the words “born again” were vividly impressed on the consciousness of many Americans who were not familiar with their meaning. They’ve been used in many headlines and on the front covers of many magazines.
But for those of us who share the Christian faith, the words “born again” have a very simple meaning—that through a personal experience, we recommit our lives as humble children of God, which makes us in the realest possible sense brothers and sisters of one another. Families are bound by the closest possible ties.
I noticed in a small news item this morning that I was chosen “Lover of the Year.” [Laughter] It concerned me very much until I read on and found that it was because my wife and I have been in love for more than 31 years, and that the exemplification of a close family life is the best expression of love.
But for a Member of Congress, for a Governor, for an executive officer who cares for hundreds of thousands of veterans of war, for the Commanding General of the United States Marines, for foreign dignitaries, and for a President, the word “family” has a broader meaning-the family of all human beings and how we might alleviate world tensions and hatred and misunderstandings and death and suffering and loneliness and alienation through a common understanding and a common purpose and, sometimes, even a common belief.
A few weeks ago, I was in India. As part of my preparation for meeting with Indian leaders, I read the Bhagavad-Gita and later visited the site where Mahatma Gandhi’s body was cremated and thought about his simple, deeply committed life, his knowledge of Christianity and Judaism, his worship of God, the simplicity and humility and sensitivity of his life. And I felt a kinship with him and a kinship of the Indian leaders who have not always been our friends in recent years. And as I talked to Prime Minister Desai, this was a common thread that ran through the conversations between us—how we shared something.
Last year, at a relatively small supper at the White House, Crown Prince Fahd from Saudi Arabia, when asked a question by a member of the group, a Member of Congress—how will Saudi Arabia with its tremendous growing wealth deal with the needs of its own people and hold together as a community?—gave one of the most eloquent impromptu speeches I have ever heard about how a common religious faith and their responsibility to hold together the interest in the holy places of Islam gave him confidence in the future and guidance on how his own life should be expended in the service of others.
I met with Prime Minister Begin twice during this past year and hope to see him again soon when he comes to our country. I like him, admire him, and respect him, because throughout his conversations with me in the quiet, lonely, private times together, and even when he talks with others in a larger group, there’s a fervor of a deeply committed, religious man who again worships the same God I do and you do.
I felt an instant friendship with President Sadat. And in his messages to me and in my talks with him, he never fails to point out that the Egyptians and the Jews are sons of Abraham, worship the same God, share a common heritage and a common faith, and that this is a transcendent thing, quite often forgotten, but still there; that it doesn’t change.
And in our own search for peace and good will, in spite of setbacks and criticisms and sometimes the undertaking of tasks that are not easily performed, I have a sense of confidence that if we emphasize and reinforce those ties of mutual faith and our subservience and humility before God and an acquiescence in his deeply sought guidance, that we can prevail.
The leaders of our Nation look with a great deal of concern over the past experiences when kings and princesses had tied themselves to God, to the church, sometimes even in an exalted position relative to God, and had cloaked maladministration and injustice in the protection of the church. So, in our Constitution, we carefully prescribed that there should be no establishment of religion in this country.
So, we worship freely. But that does not mean that leaders of our Nation and the people of our Nation are not called upon to worship, because those who wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights and our Constitution did it under the aegis of, the guidance of, with a full belief in God.
In our rapidly changing world, we need to cling to things that don’t change—to truth and justice, to fairness, to brotherhood, to love, and to faith. And through prayer, I believe that we can find those things. I don’t think that’s overly optimistic. And when Judge Sirica, one of the great men of all times in our country, referred to Solomon, I thought about the time described in the First Book of Kings, I believe, when God said to Solomon, “What do you want from me?” And Solomon said, “Give Thy servant an understanding mind to govern your people, that I might discern between good and evil.” And God said, “That’s such a fine prayer that I will not only grant you wisdom, but I will grant you the other blessings of life as well.”
Almost everyone in this room is a leader, trusted by others, looked up to by others, respected by others, influential among others. And I pray that that doesn’t give us a sense of pride or exaltation or a sense of self-satisfaction, but that it gives us a sense of humility and that we turn to God through prayer, so that we might better serve those who have placed their faith in us as we place our faith in God.
National Prayer Breakfast Remarks at the Annual Breakfast.
January 18, 1979
Fairly early in my naval career, we moved from Hawaii back to this country, about the time of the advent of television. We had doubts about its value, because the reports said that it was going to destroy the moral fabric of our Nation.
But one of the delights of my life, one of the greatest contributions of this technological miracle was the presentation by Bishop Fulton Sheen, on his regularly scheduled program, of the religious interrelationships in his own life and how they related to a modern world.
And I’m deeply grateful to him for being willing to come this morning to share with us the dynamism and the strength and the sensitivity and commitment of his own life again with us.
Thank you very much, Bishop Sheen.
It even boosts my spirits when he refers to me as a “fellow sinner.” [Laughter]
I listened with great care to him this morning as he talked about the liberty, the love, the duties, responsibilities, the constraints that bind us, as believers in God, and that offer us a guide to the future.
Last year was a year of turmoil. I noticed one public opinion poll that asked news reporters and American citizens what were the three most interesting news events of the year. All three had some religious connotation. One was a story of great tragedy—almost disgrace for the world of believers—where hundreds of people, simple people, searching for an elusive element of truth at Jonestown, perished because of misguided leadership. That was the top story of the year.
Another story in this last year demonstrated a great change in leadership, as a Cardinal from Poland, outside Rome, behind the Iron Curtain, became the leader of a great Christian faith.
And the third most important story to the people of our country was the Camp 1)avid discussions between myself, President Sadat, and Prime Minister Begin. We stayed there 13 days. And the first day we agreed, almost as an outpouring of mutual commitment and concern, that we would pray within Camp David and that we would call on the entire world to join us in a common prayer for peace. And we called upon the very same congressional and other leaders who put this breakfast together to coordinate that effort.
For several days, that was the only thing on which we did agree. [Laughter] And we made great progress because of those prayers. But peace is still elusive, and I hope that out of this breakfast can come a reconfirmation that all of you will continue to use your influence to revitalize that prayer for peace in the Middle East and throughout the world.
I would guess that one of the great news stories of 1979 will be the impact around the Persian Gulf, in the Middle East, of religious fervor and the searching for some compatibility between a modern, rapidly changing, technological world on the one hand, and an inclination on the part of devout religious leaders to cling to stability and security predicated on past social and personal habits.
So, as you can well see, in various ways, even in a modern world when we consider it to be highly secular, the great events that move the people here and in other nations are intimately related to religion.
Our Nation requires by law that the church and the state must be separated. The church cannot dominate our government. Our government cannot dominate nor influence religion. But there is no way for a human being to separate in one’s own heart and mind those inevitable correlations-responsibilities of a secular life, even in government, on the one hand, responsibilities to God on the other. They combine to form what a person is, what a person thinks, what a person hopes to be. And in international events, no matter how we try to order or separate religious trends, changes, hungers, thirsts, there is no way to sever that from public events.
In Africa, South America, Indonesia, many other nations where a crisis has not reached the tornado stage, those undercurrents of religious people searching for compatibility with the modern world, a changing world, are intense and of profound significance to everyone in this room.
Our own Nation is not impervious to this circumstance. We have suffered severely in the past because we who are Christians, others who are deeply religious in our own Nation have not been willing to accommodate those who have been deprived, who have and do suffer as they struggle for a better life.
We tend to say, “This could only happen in the past. Today, certainly, it’s not a factor in our lives.” I grew up in a region of the country which has in the past, and still sees quite often—too often—the Christian churches as the last bastion for racial segregation and even discrimination.
This past Sunday I went down to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta and participated in a program commemorating the 50th birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. Speakers there—Dr. Benjamin Mays, Daddy King, others—pointed out the progress that has been made, but the emphasis was on the progress yet to be made.
One of the elements that I noticed was the absolute truth that tends to come forward much more vividly in a quiet prayer.
I was honored at that meeting, but when Dr. Benjamin Mays got up to give his prayer, I sat back with the anticipation that somehow in his prayer he would compliment me and help my image with the audience there, the congregation. And as we bowed in prayer, he talked about all the troubles in our country, the poor, deprived, discrimination. And the culmination of his prayer was that at least our President has done a little something about some of these problems. [Laughter] And he thanked God for that little something. [Laughter]
Truth is a mandatory element of a sound basis for a religious life. But sometimes we cannot accept the truth.
I was intrigued by Bishop Sheen’s reference to the “immaculate conception” complex of Americans. It is difficult for us as Americans to think that we might be sinful, that we might be in some ways inferior, that we might have some elements of our life not yet realized, that we might have standards that have been prescribed for us which we have not met. And there’s a natural, human inclination to lower those standards to accommodate the very low achievements of our own life.
We must guard against the abuse of our own religious faith. We have seen broad changes in history. In the first few centuries after Christ’s life and death on this Earth, it was a crime to be a Christian. I’ve been reading Barbara Tuchman’s delightful history of the 14th century era. And during those days, it was a crime not to be a Christian. And the horrors of the Inquisition, the equation of a Christian commitment with a willingness to be a constant, dedicated warrior, a complete dependence on combat and bloodshed, and the abuses within the Christian Church are vividly expressed. And I’m sure at that time, there was a rationalization among devout religious believers that what we look on now with abhorrence, and sometimes so remotely with amusement, was the true teaching of Christ. And we must avoid a distortion or a rationalization because of materialistic inclinations in our own hearts, of our own religious faith and its beliefs. When any religion impacts adversely on those whom Christ described as “the least of these,” it can have no firm foundation in God’s sight.
The last point I want to make is the dramatic sense of how our religion pertains to a modern era. Shortly before Christmas, we had Alec McCowen, a great British actor, come to the White House. And he stood there on a bare stage, and he quoted from memory the book of Mark, I think about 16,000 verses, 2 1/2 hours. He didn’t use a modern translation; he used the King James version. And there was a sense among those two or three hundred people that here came someone directly from the presence of Christ and told, almost like a newspaper, in the most vivid, moving terms, about the life of the Son of God.
There was nothing stale about it. There was nothing ancient about it. There was nothing removed about it from the existence of those assembled in that room. If you get a chance, I hope you will hear him give that recitation.
Almost everyone in this room is a leader. People have exhibited faith and trust in us not only to carry out the mundane duties of a sometimes confused government responsibility but also to carry out the responsibilities much broader than that, to set an example, to search more fervently for the truth.
Sometimes we lose our confidence. One of the great problems with the modern church is its timidity about self-assertion. We’re sometimes fearful not to project ourselves as believers in God into a controversial issue, because we are fearful we might fail, we might be rebuffed. So, it’s much more easy for us in the confines of our church or our synagogue to sit back and say, “I’ll enjoy those around me whom I know, who trust me, with whom I share limitations and ignore limitations,” than it is to project a deep belief in love, compassion, understanding, service, humility, into our broad influence among others.
It’s difficult to be bold and gentle at the same time. Peace and gentleness and humility are perhaps the most difficult characteristics of a human being.
In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he said, “Since we have hope, we are very bold.” And I hope that we believers in God have not lost our hope and will continue to be bold. And later on in the same chapter of Second Corinthians, he says, “Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
There’s no incompatibility between gentleness and boldness. There’s no incompatibility between the constraints and the shackles on our lives by standards prescribed by God on the one hand, and the ultimate freedom that can come when the spirit of the Lord is present.
National Prayer Breakfast Remarks at the Annual Breakfast.
February 7, 1980
During these trying times, when I meet individual Americans or even visitors from a foreign land, I quite often have expressions of sympathy and condolence and encouragement because of the responsibilities that fall on a President. But perhaps the most urgently needed expression of condolence is for a President who has to follow, at the National Prayer Breakfast, people like Guy and Mark Hatfield and Max Cleland and Jim Wright. [Laughter]
And as you well know, I need your prayers this morning for many reasons. I was pleased with the program. As Mark pointed out it’s nondenominational and nonpartisan, well balanced—I notice that almost half of those on the program did not come from Georgia. [Laughter] And I want to thank Mark for arranging a program so well balanced as that.
This morning I want to talk for a few minutes about growth—growth in our lives as we develop and growth in our spiritual lives as we develop. All of us start out with a sole preoccupation, as an infant and then as a developing human being, with one person, ourselves; later our mothers; then our families; and as we grow, our school classmates and the community and perhaps the district or State or Nation. And as we go through these phases of our life’s evolution we become more and more aware of others.
It’s a difficult transformation, each time, because as we think more and more about others, the relative preoccupation with ourselves becomes less and less if we grow. It’s difficult to stretch our minds and our hearts and not become atrophied or pleased with our present position in life, pride, self-contained pleasure. The recognition of achievement as measured in human terms of riches or wealth are constant temptations for us all. It’s not easy to overcome those temptations in our public lives, as Members of Congress or as members of a Cabinet or great distinguished judges or even a President, because the higher position we occupy in a human measured life, the more the temptations of self-satisfaction and pride press on us.
I tried to think of an illustration from my own family to prove a point. I remember my mother’s letter to us one time from India. When she was 68 years old she joined the Peace Corps and went to India. She’s a registered nurse, and she went there with a heart full of commitment and as a very benevolent person in her own character, but still it was a shock to her to observe the living conditions around the little community where she served. She worked in a doctor’s office, and one day she had her first experience with leprosy. A father came in carrying a little girl about 8 years old, I think, in his arms, and the doctor told Mother, his aide, to give the little girl an injection and to begin medical treatments.
Mother was filled with a sense of horror and alienation and repulsion, because she, like all of us, had learned from our earlier stages in life about the terrible consequences of contact with leprosy. She finally forced herself to give that child an injection. And then a few minutes later went to the doctor and claimed to be ill, then went home and spent literally several hours washing herself.
As time went on, she continued the treatment and began to see that person not as a horrible example of a physical illness, but as a human being. And the girl began to get better. After a few weeks she was partially cured. It takes a long time. And one day the little girl came in, looked at Mother as a friend. Mother stretched out her arms. The little girl leaped to Mother’s arms, and Mother kissed her on the mouth. And it was a good while later that she even realized what she had done. Her heart had been stretched and her mind had been stretched, because she forgot about herself. She learned in the process, and even at the age of almost 70, she was still growing, .and she still is.
It’s hard to overcome those separations of phases of life and those separations that separate us one from another. A human being alone finds this to be almost an insurmountable obstacle. There are no laws written by a Congress or signed by a President that can deal with an event in a life similar to the one I’ve just described, and there are literally millions of those events that impress upon all of us the necessity for change. But God’s laws, the basis of our own human laws, have no difficulty at all in describing a path for human or spiritual growth.
To learn about another who’s different or considered inferior is a difficult thing indeed. It’s always easier to isolate ourselves to enjoy the blessings that God has given us, everyone in this room, without bound, and to forget about the need to reach out to others. When we are confronted with a requirement to change there’s always an inclination not to do so. And when there is a division between us, sometimes we even use that division to build up in ourselves a hatred or an animosity against the person who’s different as a justification or a rationalization of our own selfish, exclusive attitude toward others.
We went through a phase in this country, particularly in the South, of separation between blacks and whites in a nation, under God, committed to equality of opportunity. And it was not easy for me or for others, black or white, to make that change. It was so much easier, at that time, to stay aloof from one another. But the pressures of change were finally accommodated, and now we all thank God that that difficult transformation was made. But we can’t look upon that as a single, isolated, unique experience in a national or human growth process. Those challenges still press themselves upon us.
Without God, they’re almost impossible. With God, the difficulties fade away. With God, we could realize the universality of a desire for peace. People want peace, pray for peace, hunger for peace, not just the absence of war but peace of mind, reassurance, a time for self-contemplation, a time for self-analysis, a time for growth. Peace doesn’t automatically come with religion. As Guy pointed out a few minutes ago, the root of many of the world’s most horrible conflicts or wars or death or destruction or hatred come from the misapplication of religious beliefs and teachings—the selfish, autocratic claim: “I am right, others are wrong.”
We also learned about the universality of God’s truth. Who knows what truth is? Someone living in a rain forest would say it is truth that the Earth is wet. Someone living in a desert would say it is the truth that the Earth is dry. Someone living on the Equator would say it’s the truth that the Earth is hot. Those who live in the Arctic would say it is true that the Earth is cold. And each one would be so convinced with all that tangible evidence available to them, that they were telling the truth. Sometimes we close out conflicting views that might give us better understanding of the truth because we want to know what’s best for us.
And of course, the universality of God’s love. Not love for ourselves, not love for our mothers, our families, our communities, our districts, our State, not even love for our own Nation is adequate. There must be a love based on a genuine concern for others. One of the most difficult things for us to do is to pray for those who hate us, who despitefully use us, who persecute us.
The Bible says even the worst sinners love and pray for their friends, the ones who love them. And sometimes we don’t go that one more step forward in growth, not on a single cataclysmic, transforming experience, but daily, and count those against whom we are alienated. At least every day, list them by name, and say, “God, I pray for that person or those people.” Every day, I pray for the Ayatollah Khomeini. Every day I pray for the kidnapers who hold our innocent Americans. And every day, of course, I pray for those who are held hostages as innocents. It’s not easy to do this, and I have to force myself sometimes to include someone on my list, because I don’t want to acknowledge that that person might be worthy of my love. And the most difficult thing of all, I think, is to go one step even further than that and thank God for our own difficulties, our own disappointments, our own failures, our own challenges, our own tests.
But this is what I would like to leave with you. To set a time in each day to list all of the things that you consider to be most difficult, most embarrassing, the worst challenge to your own happiness, and not only ask God to alleviate it but preferably thank God for it. It might sound strange, but I guarantee you it works.
And you might say, “Why in the world should I ask God for thanks—give thanks, for something that seems to me so bad or so damaging?” Well, growth in a person’s life, growth for a nation, growth spiritually, all depend on our relationship with God. And the basis for that growth is an understanding of God’s purpose, and a sharing of difficult responsibilities with God through prayer.