Tag Archives: David Johnston

I went to the National Prayer Breakfast. And this is what I saw

By Lorianne Dueck

The morning sunlight blazed through Confederation Park. The tulip petals glowed.  We were on our way to pray.  

Over 400 men and women met in the Westin Hotel in downtown Ottawa for the 52nd National Prayer Breakfast in late May. I was able to join in for the purpose of collectively honouring and continuing to hold to our Christian heritage.

Lorianne Dueck just might have been one of the youngest people at the National Prayer Breakfast this year. In this blog she shares what she saw.

Amidst the conventional networking and table chit chat,  a deeper conversation took place.  The true point of discourse (not discord) at the National Prayer Breakfast is faith.

Some of the words that affected me deeply were spoken by Health Minister, Hon. Jane Philpott, P.C., M.P.. She talked about the stress of question period. She said that MPs only  have about 35 seconds to respond, which is enough time for about three sentences. “How can I use those three sentences? What do I want people to see? What do I want them to remember?” Those are the questions Philpott asks herself. She tries to make her three sentences count:  I want to have a sentence of grace, a sentence of wisdom, and a sentence of courage. 

She asked us to pray to that end. Being a person of many words (often too many), I found Philpott’s questions profound. If the world heard me for 35 seconds, would they see grace, wisdom, and courage? I would be honoured if they did – and hopefully God would be glorified.

The main address of the morning came from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada. As representative of Queen Elizabeth II, he structured his speech around faith, service, and love, drawing examples from her life (and his own) to illustrate each value. He quoted a speech by the Queen given on her 21st Birthday, published on April of 1947:

There is a motto which has been borne by many of my ancestors – a noble motto, “I serve”. […] I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong. […] God help me to make good my vow, and God bless all of you who are willing to share in it.

With my 21st birthday less than seven months away, I can honestly say that Queen Elizabeth’s words are awe-inspiring, and daunting. This is a motto I long to say with the same conviction.

The morning ended with an a capella rendition of Amazing Grace, by Canadian band Hawk Nelson. Then, as the bagpipes played, we stood, watching our political leaders leave the room and return to their offices. We left soon after.

The sun was now higher in the sky, the flowers had lost their ethereal glow, and it was time to start the work day. I had to ask myself, did that breakfast really matter? Would the prayers have an impact?

Yes.

Because when the speeches are over, the applause subsided, the food  eaten, and the dishes cleared away, three things still do remain: Faith, hope, and love – and we all know that the greatest of these is love. God continues to build His Kingdom here in Canada.

Lorianne Dueck is an EFC research assistant and an international business student at Carleton University in Ottawa.