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Participants of the 18th-prayer breakfast in Moscow

The event aimed to underscore unifying role of prayer and the Bible in Russian society

Participants of the 18th-prayer breakfast in Moscow

[Photo courtesy of the Euro-Asia Division]

On February 20, the 18th national prayer breakfast was held in Moscow, Russia, at the President Hotel. The theme of this year’s meeting was "Prayer for Russia." This event, organized by the National Morning Prayer Foundation, unites Russian religious and political figures and representatives of government and business, in the discussion of pressing problems and prayers for the country.

"Another five to six years ago, a national prayer breakfast was considered a religious event in which politicians did not like to participate,” said Petr Sautov, chairman of the National Morning Prayer Foundation.

“To date,” Sautov continued, “we have changed attitudes towards this event among political elites, and thus the attitude towards the Protestant community of Russia as a whole has changed. The task of the national prayer breakfast is to create a platform for dialogue between people of different political and religious beliefs.”

Arguing against the belief that the joint prayer by representatives of different faiths is a loss of identity and even a betrayal of their faith, Oleg Goncharov, director of the Public Affairs and Religious Liberty department, emphasized: "Each of the assembled representatives of different faiths professes their doctrines, but here we look at what unites us, our common values. 

“When we meet together, we destroy those barriers, which are many among believers. Thus, we do what Jesus Christ teaches us -- to love our neighbors, to love even those who do not agree with our opinion and worldview,” said Goncharov.  “At meetings like this prayer breakfast, those who wish prosperity of Russia gather and are ready together to meet this goal.”

Despite the fact the prayer breakfast in Russia is attended by a large number of foreign guests, Sautov noted the Russian event is not a copy of the Washington prayer breakfast: "We do not try to copy what happens abroad, we are looking for our own way and try to take all the best from those prayer breakfasts that are held all over the world.”

"Every prayer breakfast is a powerful impetus to the development and stabilization of society. Prayer does not go away just like that, it goes to the Lord and comes back with His answer. Every prayer breakfast brings us closer to the main thing - that our people will be blessed, that Russia will be blessed, every prayer brings us closer to God - the Source of well-being, health and prosperity,” said the permanent bishop of the Russian Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith, Sergey Ryakhovsky.

Many participants stressed the importance of the Bible as a unifying force that could play a role in the consolidation of Russian society. Archpriest Alexander Borisov, a Soviet biologist, publicist and public figure, complained that during the 25-year period of religious freedom in Russia, only 7-10% of the country's population read the Gospel. "The Bible is able to unite and spiritually enrich the inhabitants of Russia," the priest believes. "The main thing is that people read and know the gospel. After all, this is the basis of our state, our culture.”

Entrepreneur from Nizhny Novgorod, Svetlana Malova, known as the author and performer of Christian songs, noted: "At the prayer breakfast, they talked about the need to revive the spirituality of Russia. People need to know and read the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible is an instruction to life. If the people of Russia live by the Bible, we will have harmony in all spheres of our life.”

The chief cardiac surgeon of the Ministry of Health of Russia Leo Bokeria said: "Without a foundation, there can be no movement forward, and the Word of God, the Bible, is undoubtedly the necessary foundation, a lesson for comparing your life with what it should be. I personally read the Bible, and without the Bible I cannot imagine this life.”  Bokeria, who is also the president of the Russian NGO League Of Health Of The Nation, stressed: "Believers can do a lot to contribute to the nation's recovery. For example, we still do not have a law on organ transplantation in childhood. The most advanced in this issue were Italy and Spain, where the church appealed to people.”

Speaking about the plans for the development of the National Prayer Breakfast, Sautov said, "We hope and work to ensure that sooner or later the President of Russia participates in the national prayer breakfast and was the leading figure here, as is customary throughout the world. I think that the participation of the President will contribute to the creation of a positive image of the President himself inside and outside the country. And also to create a positive image of Russia around the world.” 

The world community,” he continued, “should see that Russia is a country that prays, turns to God, seeks His will to solve emerging problems. Today it is the responsibility of all Christians who are worried about the future of our country to pray and pray intensely, so that the Lord begins to act, began to change the hearts of people.”