I heard this week that two luminaries of the Christian community recently died: Thomas Kinkade and Chuck Colson. In Chuck’s memory, I’m sharing the current definition of prayer breakfast, which features Colson in the quotations for 1973 and 1976. Read on…
prayer breakfast n. A prayer meeting held in conjunction with breakfast. See citations for 1961 and 1976a.
Political leaders in particular have found prayer breakfasts to be a convenient way to affirm religion unity in the public forum. It’s not unusual for mayors, governors, congressmen, and even the President of the United States to convene prayer breakfasts. Probably the highest-profile prayer breakfast is the National Prayer Breakfast, which has been hosted by the President and congressional leaders in Washington, D.C., annually since 1953. Originally called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, the event was renamed in 1970.
• 1955 Motter Great Preaching Today 253 : Further, it was my privilege to attend another Prayer Breakfast a few months ago in our nation’s capital. 1961 Cox The New-Time Religion 176 : C. Stanton Gallup, president of the American Baptist Convention and the head of a lumber company and water-works in Plainfield, Conn., presides over a prayer breakfast at his home every Tuesdsay at 5:45 a.m. His wife cooks for the little group of businessmen and ministers. Then they read and discuss the Bible and are at their desks by 8 a.m. 1963 Clapp The Congressman: His Work As He Sees It 39 : Two widely divergent groups that influence House members are the Prayer Breakfast Group and the informal “gym group.” 1969 Mullen The Dialogue Gap 17 : It was during this time that Norman Vincent Peale’s “peace-of-mind” books were selling like hot cakes, and the “prayer breakfast” became popular religio-political activity. 1973 Time (17 Dec.) : At a White House staff prayer breakfast last week, Colson, 42, revealed a new aspect. He said that he has “come to know Christ.” … Suspecting that his newfound faith may go down hard with some, Tough Guy Colson had a forthright response for scoffers. Said he: “If anyone wants to be cynical about it, I’ll pray for him.” 1976 Colson Born Again 222 : Next to the Fourth of July, the prayer breakfast was the most important event in town. After we had consumed huge platters of baked eggs atop bread, there were official welcomes, an opening prayer, passage readings from the Old and New Testament and then I was introduced. 1976 New York Times Mag. (1 Aug.) 9 : The prayer-breakfast movement, evangelical in origin, has been taken up enthusiastically by mainline Protestant churches and by Mormons and Christian Scientists. It is nondenominational in emphasis, like the great revivals and crusades. 1978 New Yorker (6 Feb.) 46 : Nowadays, no politician in the vicinity of Atlanta at the appropriate time would dream of skipping the Governor’s Annual Prayer Breakfast. 2003 Gowan The Westminster Theological Wordbook of the Bible s.v. “Fast” : It is interesting that in some contemporary church circles a “prayer breakfast” (rather than “praying and fasting”) can be an effective practice.