Our nation’s top political leaders gathered on Thursday at the 72nd annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., to pray for our nation, the president and the world.

President Joe Biden and high-ranking leaders from both parties attended the breakfast. In a rare sight, President Biden, Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson and Democrat House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries sat together in the front row.

WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 01: U.S. President Joe Biden, Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) and House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) applaud for Andrea Bocelli after he performed “Amazing Grace” during the annual National Prayer Breakfast in Statuary Hall in the U.S. Capitol on February 01, 2024 in Washington, DC. The gathering of elite political, social and business leaders has been attended by every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower. This is the first year the event is being hosted by the National Prayer Breakfast Foundation inside the Capitol after being controlled for decades by the Christian evangelical group the Fellowship Foundation. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The prayer breakfast was held for the first time in the U.S. Capitol building’s Statuary Hall, CNA reports.

Renowned Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli was the event’s main singer.

“In ancient Rome, one ‘great’ man recommended that Roman soldiers not be permitted to listen to music because music ‘softens one’s heart and makes soldiers not prepared to battle,’” Bocelli said.

“That’s why I’m extremely pleased to be here today, to bring my own small musical contribution because I think that you, like me, are hoping and dreaming of having an army of soldiers not ready to battle, but very efficient to bring peace in the world,” he added, bringing a round of applause.

Bocelli went on to sing a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace,” which you can listen to below:

The origins of “Amazing Grace” befit the song’s name. Written by slave trader John Newton around Christmastime in 1772, Newton had grown up with a Catholic father and a “Nonconformist Christian” mother – but himself was highly skeptical of religion.

Newton spent years of his career in the slave trade – tempted by its lucrative profits.

Newton repeatedly faced near-death experiences throughout his life. He once was thrown from a horse, narrowly missing impalement on a row of sharp stakes. And he once arrived too late to board a boat carrying his companions to tour a warship; he watched from the shore as the boat capsized, drowning all its passengers.

As a result, Newton grew to believe that God had miraculously spared his life for a purpose.

It took many more years for Newton to gradually end his practice of trading slaves. But after doing so, he joined forces with William Wilberforce to speak out against the slave trade, authoring the essay “Thoughts upon the African Slave Trade.” He relayed his own experience with the trade, noting that captors often brutalized their slaves, including through rape, torture and murder.

In an essay, Newton once wrote, “I hope it will always be a subject of humiliating reflection to me . . . that I was once an active instrument in a business at which my heart now shudders.”

Newton went on to become an ordained minister in June 1764 – writing “Amazing Grace” eight years later.

In the United States, slavery is often referred to as our country’s “original sin.” Abortion could be called our nation’s “ongoing and unrepentant sin.”

Perhaps Bocelli’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” will convict the hearts and minds of our nation’s elected representatives – many of whom support the ongoing killing of preborn babies.

We can pray that our elected leaders will – like John Newton – repent.

We can also pray that God would convict our nation of this ongoing sin, grant those involved with the practice a spirit of repentance, and the courage to fight to end abortion.

God does grant forgiveness for offenses – but acknowledgement of sins, contrition, and repentance are required. In this way, may our nation implore God for His Amazing Grace.

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,

That saved a wretch like me!

I once was lost, but now am found;

Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,

And grace my fears relieved;

How precious did that grace appear

The hour I first believed!

If you are experiencing an unexpected pregnancy and want to learn more about your options, visit My Choice Network.

You can purchase a copy of Eric Metaxas’ book Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. You can also check out Focus on the family’s award winning Radio Theater: “Grace Abounding: The Story of John Newton,” and “Amazing Grace: The Stories of William Wilberforce, John Newton and Olaudah Equiano.

Related articles and resources:

My Choice Network

I’m Pregnant, Now What?

Dealing With Unplanned Pregnancy

Resources: Hope & Healing After Abortion

Become an Option Ultrasound Life Advocate

Focus on the Family: Pro-Life

Andrea Bocelli’s Mom Courageously Refused to Abort Him

Photo from Getty Images.