On February 2, 1984, President Ronald Reagan spoke at the Annual
National Prayer Breakfast in the International Ballroom at the
Washington Hilton Hotel.
After greeting the assembly which included many U.S. Senators and
Representatives, President Reagan said: “In a world today that is so
torn with strife where the divisions seem to be increasing, not people
coming together, within countries, divisions within the people,
themselves and all, I wonder if we have ever thought about the greatest
tool that we have -- that power of prayer and God's help.”
“This power of prayer,” continued President Reagan, “can be illustrated
by a story that goes back to the fourth century…” Then he told about a
monk that lived during the 4th century by the name of Telemachus.
Telemachus had been living “in a little remote village, spending most of
his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his
sustenance,” when he, because he believed it to be God’s will, went to
When Telemachus arrived in Rome, President Reagan explained:
It was at a time of a festival in Rome. They were
celebrating a triumph over the Goths. And he followed a crowd into the
Coliseum, and then there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the
gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, “We who are
about to die salute you.'' And he realized they were going to fight to
the death for the entertainment of the crowds. And he cried out, “In
the name of Christ, stop!” And his voice was lost in the tumult there
in the great Coliseum.
And as the games began, he made his way down through the
crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena.
Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to
the gladiators and saying, over and over again, “In the name of Christ,
stop.” And they thought it was part of the entertainment, and at first
they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn't, they grew
belligerent and angry. And as he was pleading with the gladiators, “In
the name of Christ, stop,” one of them plunged his sword into his body.
And as he fell to the sand of the arena in death, his last words were,
“In the name of Christ, stop.”
And suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators
stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over
the Coliseum. And then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual
made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. And in
the dead silence, everyone left the Coliseum. That was the last battle
to the death between gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. Never again did
anyone kill or did men kill each other for the entertainment of the
One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the
tumult: “In the name of Christ, stop.” It is something we could be
saying to each other throughout the world today.
That’s what we need in the world today. Peace between countries, peace
within countries, peace in our homes, peace within each of us, and even
peace with God.
God sent His Son into the world: that we may have peace with God (Romans
5:1-2), peace with others (cf. Ephesians 2:13-22) , and peace within
ourselves (Philippians 4:6-7).
It all begins
with having peace with God. It is our sin that separates us from God
(Isaiah 59:1-2), but Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our
sins so that we can be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).