Contrary to some popular opinion, a lot of very positive things still happen in Washington, D.C., and throughout our nation.

On Thursday morning, I found myself at the National Prayer Breakfast (with about 3,000 others), seated between Gen. Michael Flynn and evangelist Franklin Graham. I was only a table down from King Abdullah of Jordan, the prime minister of the Congo, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Catholic Church and several of my colleagues from the Senate and House. There were also a lot of "just folks" who came from every state for this annual event. Many of us contribute up to $350 to attend the breakfast and following seminars. The money raised helps to start new prayer breakfasts nationally and internationally. Senate Chaplain Barry Black and several celebrities gave splendid addresses about the power of prayer in their lives.

President Donald Trump didn’t miss a beat. He spoke of taking the oath of office on the very Bible his mother gave him when he was just 9 years old. He said the most meaningful thing people say to him as he travels about the nation is five words: “I am praying for you.”

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) nearly brought the house down when, looking in Trump’s direction, she said, "A year ago we never would have expected you to be here — a Chicago Cub wearing a World Series ring!" Trump was seated next to the Cubs' Ben Zobrist, the World Series MVP.

The prayer breakfast is an annual event started during the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower wherein thousands gather in a grand ballroom and as many overflow rooms as needed; this year it was held in the Washington Hilton. While there are regular weekly Senate and House prayer breakfasts, they all converge in one National Prayer Breakfast each year. The significance of the breakfast is so great that foreign heads of state, diplomats and dignitaries attend — leaders from all over the world. All this may sound very powerful, but God may have been looking at us like Pharisees praying in public. I don’t think our prayers are any more significant than any ordinary person praying alone. In spite of the risk of being a Pharisee, I think the concept of the prayer breakfast is great.

It is not really a breakfast but some simple bagels and fruit; still, it is wonderful, and I am glad prayer remains an important, humbling aspect in the lives of our public servants. However, I struggle with how we reconcile the National Prayer Breakfast with Matthew 6:6: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” I look around and wonder: Is this about prayer or is this about seeing and being seen by the who’s who of Washington and global politics? A troubling proposition, to be sure.

On one hand, Jesus emphasized the importance of being privately devout, of ensuring prayer and holiness is used for one’s personal relationship with God. However, he gave the Lord's Prayer in public. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we emphasize praying to our Heavenly Father, both privately and in church.

On the other hand, I do think it’s important for our national leadership to be unafraid to show our faith and set a strong example. This public prayer shows we depend on God as a nation. While there should be a separation of church and state, is it important for us as community to stand by our moral foundation.

I am not entirely settled on this issue of public prayer. However, walking out of the prayer breakfast, I felt personally uplifted and that our country was uplifted. Everybody talked about the power of prayer and how important it is in their lives. The National Prayer Breakfast reaffirmed my personal quest for better prayer in my own life and, I hope, in the life of our nation.

Sen. Larry Pressler was a U.S. senator for 18 years and congressman for four years. He is a Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law graduate and a Vietnam veteran.