America needs to pray and believe in the power of prayer now more than ever, said a former Hill Air Force Base vice commander.

Brig. Gen. Charles E. Fox Jr. said the country is worrying not only about the war in the Middle East but new conflicts in Eastern Europe and reports that up to 15 nations will have ballistic nuclear missiles by the year 2015.What makes the bad news so disheartening to Americans is that a year ago people were celebrating the end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, he said.

"I can't think of a more important time that we need to pray for America than today," said Fox, deputy commander of the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command in North Bay, Ontario.

Fox, who served as vice commander of the Ogden Air Logistics Center from 1987 to 1989, visited Hill Air Force Base this week and spoke Thursday morning at the base's observance of the National Prayer Breakfast, an annual event held by government and military leaders nationwide.

Noting that today's "liberal" society often doesn't recognize God or prayer, Fox said those elements have played a major part in the shaping of the United States.

Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln are a few examples of leaders who depended on divine inspiration to some extent, Fox said.

"I don't think all these leaders would be praying if it didn't work . . . It worked then and it works today."

Addressing what is on everyone's mind, Fox said the war against Iraq is just and described Saddam Hussein as a "ruthless dictator."

"If he had his way and the means, he would destroy the American way of life," Fox said. "We know more about Saddam Hussein than is being written (in the press) . . . When the history books are written, it will become clear that Saddam Hussein had to be stopped."

The country must realize, however, that its "commitment to take evil head on" is going to "cost us something."

Fox said an end to the war and a safe return for the troops will largely depend on the spiritual help of the people back home.

"The most effective way we can express appreciation for our troops is to pray for a quick resolution of this conflict and a restoration of a peaceful balance of power."

Sharing several personal experiences, Fox said prayer is also essential to individual peace of mind.

"The most dangerous situation I can think of is not sitting in a foxhole. . . . The most dangerous situation is a separation from God."