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National Prayer Breakfast

Hands folded into prayer in a church pew.The National Prayer Breakfast provides a forum for U.S. and world leaders to gather together and discuss their faith. The day is marked by a series of meetings and events that guests can attend. The highlights of the event are speeches by two keynote guests. The first is usually the U.S. president, while the second speaker’s identity remains secret until the day of.

The Breakfast takes place annually and is traditionally held on the first Thursday of February. Since the 1980s, the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue has served as the event venue. The National Prayer Breakfast is organized by the Fellowship Foundation on behalf of the United States Congress.

History

The National Prayer Breakfast is organized by the Fellowship Foundation. Abraham Veriedem, a Methodist Minister, founded this organization in 1935. By doing so, he aimed to provide a place for political leaders to meet and pray together. He began by organizing small prayer groups among politicians in various cities. By 1944, he managed to hold the first Congressional prayer meeting with joint House and Senate participation. This paved the way for today’s National Prayer Breakfast (originally called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast), which began in 1953. The National Prayer Breakfast is marked by the attendance of every sitting U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower.

American Guest House's Exterior at DuskSignificance and Controversy

This is a major annual event, with thousands of guests from at least 100 different countries. In addition to fellowship, the Breakfast provides ample opportunity for international networking among leaders. However, this aspect of the National Prayer Breakfast has also attracted criticism. Common objections are that the breakfast creates a backdoor avenue to the President and that money buys access to significant meetings. Additionally, many criticize the Fellowship itself for its secretive nature. In recent years, reporter Jeff Sharlet published a critical and often-cited book about the Fellowship.

American Guest House Plug

If you are attending the National Prayer Breakfast, consider staying at the American Guest House. Our cozy DC bed and breakfast is a short five-minute walk from the Washington Hilton. Our inn near Dupont Circle will provide you with a quiet place to unwind from a busy day.