NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, the Romanian Mircea Geoană, spoke about the central role of prayer in his life and in dealing with the war that is currently going on in Europe.
Around 480 politicians and other Christian leaders - including a number from Sweden - gathered for a prayer breakfast at the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday morning.
The event had grown so much this year that those organising it needed to find the largest possible room in the Parliament.
The gathering’s combination of seriousness and bold exercise of faith sends an encouraging message about the natural role of Christianity in all of life - including politics.
In the United States, the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC has been held every year since 1953 and has led to local variations across much of the world.
This year’s event in Brussels was, of course, marked by the war in Ukraine. One of the most powerful moments of the prayer breakfast was when a Ukrainian and a Russian pastor embraced each other and gave their testimonies of how only God’s love can reconcile at the depths where people spread mistrust, hatred and even death.
NATO’s Deputy Secretary General, the Romanian Social Democrat Mircea Geoană, was one of the speakers at the breakfast. He spoke in a seemingly self-evident way about the central role of prayer in his life and in dealing with the war that is currently going on in Europe.
The tone of his speech was influenced by the nature of the gathering – for sure he would use different words at strategy meetings at NATO headquarters. But in the internationally and denominationally mixed group of people who spoke and led in prayer, there was nevertheless a strikingly strong level of intimacy and devotion to the Bible, to Jesus and to the conviction of the power of prayer.
If the Christian faith is indeed true - if God the Father Almighty is the Creator of heaven and earth, if Jesus Christ has risen from the dead, and his followers are called to go out into all the world and make disciples of all people - then there is also reason to let the Christian faith be an obvious centre in all aspects of life and society.
All of this will be an important reminder to Sweden - that extremely secular country on the edge of Europe. It is no coincidence that a national prayer breakfast has never been held here. Perhaps it is church policy considerations, a general caution or other practical obstacles that have stood in the way.
But meeting with bold Christians in other countries is a reminder of how boldly natural the Christian practice of faith can be outside our own country. The kingdom of God is bigger than political parties and national boundaries.
Perhaps it is time for politicians not only in Brussels, but also in Stockholm and other capitals that have not yet held prayer breakfasts, to take up the calling to host such arrangements in a time as this, where the good news of the gospel is needed more than ever.
Per Ewert, Director at the Clapham Institutet (Sweden). He has a PhD on Swedish 20th century politcs, secularization and autonomy. This article was first published on Världen idag and translated with permission of the author.
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