WASHINGTON—House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) this evening delivered opening remarks and a prayer at this year’s ‘Washington – A Man of Prayer’ event, held in National Statuary Hall. Following are Speaker Ryan’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:
"Good evening, everyone. Pastor Dan, Joann, it is an honor to welcome your congregation to our Capitol."
"This, of course, is Statuary Hall. It was our House chamber for most of the 19th century. And on Sundays, when not being used for the people’s business, it was host to weekly services. They say it was the largest church on the East Coast."
"That was a time in our history when Washington was not thought of as a man of prayer, or a man at all, really. He was revered as an icon, a god-like figure."
"In the Rotunda, look up and you see Brumidi’s fresco, with Washington rising to the heavens. The piece is actually called 'Apotheosis of Washington.' Apotheosis meaning 'glorification.'”
"In all the representations of Washington in this building, he is the focal point, the center of attention."
"But there is one very notable exception."
"Just off the Rotunda, we have a small prayer room. It is a quiet place for members to reflect on big decisions. And there is a stained glass window where Washington is depicted kneeling, his hands joined together in prayer."
"Surrounding him are the words from the Psalm: 'Preserve me, O God, for in thee do I put my trust.'"
"Washington had the humility to seek God’s guidance, to ask Him to protect America. His 'earnest prayer,' he called it."
"To us, this is a birthright. It is fundamental."
"But around the world tonight, there are people—far too many—who are persecuted for their faith. They risk everything to pray—literally taking their lives into their own hands."
"Repression is the refuge of the weak and the insecure."
"But in these days after Easter, we reflect on the power of resurrection…on the ultimate truth that our lives are transformed by our belief in God. We take heart in knowing—in believing—that after a dark night, there will be cause to rejoice and be glad."
"And so, let us pray."
"Heavenly Father, give each of us the wisdom to follow Washington’s example and be unafraid in turning to you. Look with love on your servants who suffer. May they be preserved by your grace. In thee we put our trust."
"Thank you all for having me here tonight."