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President Obama on His Personal Religious Faith

Remarks at 2011 National Prayer Breakfast

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President Obama on His Personal Religious Faith
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Over the past two years, the nature of these obligations, the proper role of government has obviously been the subject of enormous controversy. And the debates have been fierce as one side’s version of compassion and community may be interpreted by the other side as an oppressive and irresponsible expansion of the state or an unacceptable restriction on individual freedom.

That's why a second recurring theme in my prayers is a prayer for humility. Now, God answered this prayer for me early on by having me marry Michelle. Because whether it’s reminding me of a chore undone, or questioning the wisdom of watching my third football game in a row on Sunday, she keeps me humble.

Humility: "None of us has all the answers."

But in this life of politics when debates have become so bitterly polarized, and changes in the media lead so many of us just to listen to those who reinforce our existing biases, it’s useful to go back to Scripture to remind ourselves that none of us has all the answers -- none of us, no matter what our political party or our station in life.

The full breadth of human knowledge is like a grain of sand in God’s hands. And there are some mysteries in this world we cannot fully comprehend. As it’s written in Job, "God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways. He does great things beyond our understandings."

The challenge I find then is to balance this uncertainty, this humility, with the need to fight for deeply held convictions, to be open to other points of view but firm in our core principles. And I pray for this wisdom every day.

I pray that God will show me and all of us the limits of our understanding, and open our ears and our hearts to our brothers and sisters with different points of view; that such reminders of our shared hopes and our shared dreams and our shared limitations as children of God will reveal the way forward that we can travel together.

"My prayer... is that we seek His face... each and every day."

And the last recurring theme, one that binds all prayers together, is that I might walk closer with God and make that walk my first and most important task.

In our own lives it’s easy to be consumed by our daily worries and our daily concerns. And it is even easier at a time when everybody is busy, everybody is stressed, and everybody -- our culture is obsessed with wealth and power and celebrity. And often it takes a brush with hardship or tragedy to shake us out of that, to remind us of what matters most.

We see an aging parent wither under a long illness, or we lose a daughter or a husband in Afghanistan, we watch a gunman open fire in a supermarket -- and we remember how fleeting life can be.

And we ask ourselves how have we treated others, whether we’ve told our family and friends how much we love them. And it’s in these moments, when we feel most intensely our mortality and our own flaws and the sins of the world, that we most desperately seek to touch the face of God.

So my prayer this morning is that we might seek His face not only in those moments, but each and every day; that every day as we go through the hustle and bustle of our lives, whether it’s in Washington or Hollywood or anywhere in between, that we might every so often rise above the here and now, and kneel before the Eternal; that we might remember, Kaye, the fact that those who wait on the Lord will soar on wings like eagles, and they will run and not be weary, and they will walk and not faint.

"I ask Him to give me the strength to do right by our country and its people."

When I wake in the morning, I wait on the Lord, and I ask Him to give me the strength to do right by our country and its people. And when I go to bed at night I wait on the Lord, and I ask Him to forgive me my sins, and look after my family and the American people, and make me an instrument of His will.

I say these prayers hoping they will be answered, and I say these prayers knowing that I must work and must sacrifice and must serve to see them answered. But I also say these prayers knowing that the act of prayer itself is a source of strength.

It’s a reminder that our time on Earth is not just about us; that when we open ourselves to the possibility that God might have a larger purpose for our lives, there’s a chance that somehow, in ways that we may never fully know, God will use us well.

May the Lord bless you and keep you, and may He bless this country that we love.

SOURCE - White House Website

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