LYNCHBURG, Va. -- Presidential hopeful Ben Carson welcomes prayers for him, he says, hoping people will pray for his "courage" and "stamina."
The retired neurosurgeon made the request while speaking at the evangelical Christian Liberty University on Wednesday, where he got a glowing response from the crowd.
Asked how the students of Liberty could pray for him, Carson was reflective.
"I am hopeful that the people will pray for courage, for stamina, for protection, for me and my family, and for the eyes of the nation to be opened to what's going on," he said, saying the nation is being divided by phony "wars" between various groups.
Carson also expanded on why he decided to run for president, which he has repeatedly said was never his goal as he was on the verge of retiring from a successful medical career. A man driven by his faith, Carson has often said God sent him the message that he should run as others clamored for him to do so.
On Wednesday, Carson said that message from God began in 2013.
"Why did I even get involved with ... the slimy world of politics?" Carson said. "You know, when I got the call to be the keynote speaker at the National Prayer Breakfast for 2013, I said, 'Lord, what are you up to?'"
Carson said he had spoken at the annual prayer breakfast in 1997 and the event almost never featured speakers twice -- but famous Christian evangelist and political adviser Billy Graham had also done it two times.
"Then I knew he was really up to something," Carson said, saying it took him all the way until the morning of the breakfast to know what God wanted him to say.
"And then people started clamoring for me to run for president," he said.
Carson famously used the 2013 speech to criticize Obamacare and progressive tax policies just a few feet from President Barack Obama, who was also on the stage. He was catapulted to becoming a conservative icon after that.
He said he thought the attention on a presidential run was "absurd," but it kept going even as experts said it was "impossible."
"All of the political professionals were saying, 'Carson, run for president? ... He's not connected to any of the money, he doesn't know anything,'" Carson said. "And I said, 'Phew, I'm glad to hear that.'"
He continued: "But it kept going and I said, 'Lord, this was not on my bucket list, but if you truly want me to do this ... nothing is impossible for you, so if you open the doors, I will walk through them,' and he began opening the doors."
Carson was appearing at Liberty the morning after the fourth Republican presidential debate, where he managed to avoid any attacks from his competitors and deflected with humor the recent slew of media stories digging into parts of his autobiography.