Politics and prayers
President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama bow their heads in prayer at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington Thursday.
February 2nd, 2012
12:18 PM ET

Politics and prayers

Washington (CNN)–President Barack Obama called on lawmakers to allow their faith and values to guide them as they seek to solve the country’s "most urgent problems" including the sluggish economy and continuing involvements overseas, such as the war in Afghanistan.  

Speaking at the 60th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday, the president said, "We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can't dictate our response to every challenge we face. But in my moments of prayer, I'm reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others."

Addressing the divisive partisanship in Congress and relations between the White House and the GOP leadership, the president cautioned leaders should not "get caught up in the noise and rancor that too often passes as politics today, these moments of prayer slow us down. They humble us."

The president spoke about how his values continue to influence and "motivate" his leadership when addressing one of the most divisive issues between Democrats and Republicans, the elimination of some tax breaks for wealthy Americans. 

"[W]hen I talk about shared responsibility, it's because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it's hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone," he told the audience. 

But he later continued, "[W]e can earnestly seek to see these values lived out in our politics and our policies, and we can earnestly disagree on the best way to achieve these values." 

The president also reminded the audience of his deep faith as he spoke of beginning each day with a prayer and how he spends "a little time in scripture and devotion" each morning. 

He recounted a meeting he had as president with religious leader Rev. Billy Graham who counseled many previous presidents.  A letter from the ailing Graham was read at Thursday's prayer breakfast.

Obama talked about the humbling experience he had with Rev. Graham who said a prayer for him and how he wanted to say a prayer for Graham.

"What do you pray for when it comes to the man who has prayed for so many?" the president asked his audience.

"And so I prayed - briefly, but I prayed from the heart...saying a prayer for Billy Graham - a man whose faith had changed the world.”

“I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment - asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong,” he said.


Topics: Congress • President Obama

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soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. cold hard facts

    The Lord gave teh word, great was the company that published it.. and this is that word...

    Jesus said, "if you abide in me and my words abide in you , you shall ask way you will and it shall be done unto you.."
    :) :) :)

    February 2, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  2. canuhereme

    I pray that his prayers will be answered.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:46 pm |
    • Steveo

      What did he pray for?

      February 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • S.Positive

        None of your business, it is God's, go pray yours if you can...

        February 2, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
      • Steveo

        1. I wasn't asking you!
        2. Do you happen to understand the power of agreement?. Wouldn't it be wise to know what you are in agreement with?
        3. Why so nasty?
        4. I do pray but thanks for asking!

        February 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm |
      • C-Lo

        How do you spell I-R-O-N-Y?
        1. Sticking your nose in a conversation telling someone in that conversation it's non of their business
        2. Using such negative speech under the moniker "Positive"
        3. Defending un-defensive.

        Hit 'em all in one semi-coherent sentence fragment...congratulations!

        February 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm |
      • Howard

        Barack and Michelle are probably praying for 'God Damn America' ... just like they did for TWENTY YEARS, in Jeremiah Wright's anti-American church. These two are phony hypocrites, who will say, or do anything that will help them hold onto the power they now have.

        February 2, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
      • jerrylax

        he didn't pray...he acted like it as he has done as president... kinda like when he painted that goofy logo on the plane and strutted all over America acting like he was already president. He is a phony.

        February 2, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
      • jean2009

        @exlax ...you mean the plane like Romney has with the fancy Obama inspired "R" on it?
        You are such an unintelligent phony baloney.
        Obama-Biden 2012

        February 2, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
      • jerrylax

        @jean...obama had the American flag removed from the aircraft to put is logo on...a despicable and foolish act. Gov Romney has not done that. This one despicable act of obama pretty much framed his presidency...the results are in.

        check snopes on this one..you old crazy woman you.

        February 2, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
      • jean2009

        It was his campaign plane...not a U. S. government plane, or Air Force One. As for your lame brained reasoning, I just revisited this issue on snopes. Fact is: McCain's 2008 campaign plane didn't have a flag as a logo on it either....it just said McCain and was referred to as the "Straight Talk Express"....which it wasn't. McCain's plane is pictured as well.

        Frankly, I doubt if you have ever checked your misinformation out on snopes....it would point out what a moron you are.

        http://www.snopes.com/politics/obama/airplane.asp

        Neither person campaigning was flying a plane owned by the U.S. government; nor were either flying in Air Force One.

        February 5, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
  3. Charlie Moore

    God Bless President Obama, & God bless the United States of America..

    February 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  4. Phil in KC

    Personally, I think it's time we got religion out of our politics and vice-versa. The National Prayer Breakfast is nothing but a bunch of politicians playing to a certain segment of the population and that's all it's ever been.

    February 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
    • Steveo

      Phi in KC,

      So you disagree with the HHS trying to force Catholics hospitals and businesses to offer insurance that covers abortions and birth control?

      February 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
      • I do

        Steveo, govt needs to stay out of personal choices, for HHS to force anyone to cover such things as abortions, birth control is not absurd. I am anti-abortion having said that, it is a PERSONAL choice if a woman wants to abort her child, who am I to judge. If I want to have cosmetic surgery who should Insurance Co have to cover a personal choice. Having an abortion is personal or taking birth control is personal choice not a Medical need.

        February 2, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
      • S.Positive

        I am not being nasty, just know a hypocrite who I sense one. I see your troll and not sure if you are praying to the same God of love, you sound like your god is the one of hate...

        February 2, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
      • Steveo

        S Postive,

        if that is what you think, then you are NOT thinking! Asking Canuhereme what the president prayed for is hate? Or could it be a word of advice for Canuhereme for not agreeing to something he/she has no idea he/she is agreeing to? Let me ease your mind about me. I pray to the Heavenly Father (Jehovah) in the name of the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! That sound like a god of hate to you?

        February 2, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
      • YES I DO DISAGREE

        Steveo, having an abortion or taking birth control is a personal choice not a medical need, just like cometic surgery. Why should the insurance industry be forced to pay for an elective choice (personal request) I am against abortion however, that is a personal choice and who am I to judge a woman who makes a personal choice to abort her child. I would love to have cosmetic surgery as a personal choice, is it a medical need NO IT ISN'T therefore my insurance will not cover it rightfully so.

        February 2, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • Steveo

        @I Do,

        You said the government needs to stay out of personal choices:
        1. Exactly who made abortions legal in the first place, if not the government?
        2. In attempting to force Catholics to provide insurance that covers abortions and birth control, through the HHS, the government is deeply involved!

        @Yes I do diagree,

        So does separation of church and state mean nothing? Is it a GET OUT OF JAIL FREE CARD, the governmemnt can play when it feels the need? I am not a Catholic but knowing how government works whose next?

        February 2, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
    • AGREED

      PHIL, you are so right, so we can drop the MUSLIM ATTACKS on Obama. I just find that this Muslim issue 4 years later is such a big thing. Who is questioning Romney's faith. Hey as a Mormon he can't work on Sundays, his family can't go out shopping, movies etc. Is he going if elected ask us to contribute 10% of our net income like the Mormons?

      February 2, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
      • C-Lo

        The difference is the Mormons ASK you to do it out of the kindness of your heart, understanding, like other Christian (and other religious) sects, everything we have is a gift from Him. The gov't is trending in the same direction, making you believe everything you have, including a job, is a gift from THEM, and therefore you are FORCED to tithe (or thrithe if you are more fortunate) under the threat of prison. Maybe asking the entire populace to contribute 10% would be a good solution–oh yeah, that's the FLAT tax you hate.

        Why do you think lib elite want to diminish religion in this country so badly? It's becuse they want you reliant on them.

        February 2, 2012 at 2:00 pm |
    • jerrylax

      yeah...we need to modify the constitution...no freedom of religion..then no gathering in each others homes to just talk...then the spies and then then... you need to get an education.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  5. llilo

    Obama will say and do anything now that it's election time for him. He still forcing his polices down people throats without a care in the world arrogantly.

    February 2, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  6. Notarichboy

    The only time Obama mentions Christianity, Jesus or praying is when he is front of an audience that he thinks will want to hear it. This guy is as much a Christian as Larry Flint is!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • AND YOU KNOW HE ISN'T

      @Notarichboy, who are you or anyone else to question his faith, who are you to judge. So me FACTS that he is not a Christian. And what is your faith, oh buying Larry Flint's magazine obviously since you brought him up.

      February 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
    • jean2009

      @Notarichidiot
      Obviously you have been out of the loop far to much to know that the President attends and speaks at The National Prayer Breakfast, and has every year for his 3 years as President. This is an annual multi-faith event that has happened every year for the last 60 years. It is hosted by the House and Senate which meet weekly at the Capitol for prayer service. Every President since Eisenhower has attended. President Obama has attended this event every year since he was a Senator.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
  7. AmericanLady

    For years now I have read comments slandering President Obama about his faith. I know it will continue this year as the election ramps up. It's probable that Governor Romney will be the Republican nominee and there will be slanders about his faith. When I see those comments, it tells me more about the person making the comment than it tells me about Governor Romney or President Obama, both of whom I consider men of faith. We have freedom to worship as we choose in this country, according to our Constitution, and to not be questioned or judged and I would hope, slandered about it.

    Okay, off the soap box.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • jerrylax

      obama attended a RADICAL RACIST church...if you could call it a church. He earned the comments thrown his way... Fact is voters got what they bought with obama not what they thought. Now, because we still have free speech, they may see what it is they bought...and it is not pretty.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
      • POT MEET KETTLE

        Jerry you are such an idiot, Radical Racist Church, wow the man is 1/2 black and you are calling him Racist, lol! It is no ones right to question his faith and quite frankly I wish this White House approved payer breakfast will just stop. I don't care if my president prays or not , that is up to him and whom ever he feels is his maker. Do you give a crap that if elected as a Mormon Mittens may not govern on Sundays as the Mormon faith dictates no worky no playee on Sun.

        February 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
      • jean2009

        @exlax You seem to be a radical racist ranting religion in and of your own making. All without one wit of fact or truth attached to support anything you say.. All you seem to post is hate and lies...you must be a very sorry specimen.

        Obama-Biden 2012

        February 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
      • jerrylax

        ojhJean...all those tapes of Wright's preaching...don't exist?... are you completely nuts! You must live in your head.

        February 2, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
      • jean2009

        @Exlax

        As with most things Repugnant/Teapotty racist inspired. I feel Rev. Wright's remarks very likely have been taken out of context. In much the same way as you (and others) on here have tried to take Michelle Obama's and twist them to say what was not said.

        http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-04-26-wright-comments_N.htm

        And when you read the full text of what the Reverent Wright said it is completely different than your wrong spin on it.

        http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/03/21/the-full-story-behind-rev-jeremiah-wrights-911-sermon/

        Basically he was talking about the innocents we kill whenever we wage war...and how much better our efforts could be spent in making life better for everyone......in truth he is right.

        http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_4596.shtml

        Many of Rev. Wright's sermons have been transcribed from the original recordings by the Chicago Tribune and anyone who wants can research exactly from the full text of those recordings...and if you read them you find that what someone with an agenda tells you the Rev. Wright said, and what he really said are two very different things.

        But then you would rather be brainwashed and wrong than learn the truth. Racist hate does that to people.

        February 5, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
      • Sangs

        swearing off dabsosiple coffee cups. Somehow I havent quite got around to adding it to my list of official resolutions; let alone taking it serious enough to last more than a day without a cup. I am a wandering English

        March 2, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  8. Gloria

    I believe the president and his family are good Christian people.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
  9. A Republican

    I was just waiting for some on this post to claim to know what and critcize the presidents personal relationship with god. Those that critizie just don't know that they're being used by the devil to spew hatered and doubt.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
    • Kris

      Amen

      February 2, 2012 at 2:23 pm |
      • Kornelis

        Bernie,I am here in D/FW area of Texas, and I am a Clinton Democrat.I am ahead of you and agree with you on this one. I have been syaing since the Primaries, Hillary will run in 2012 and in Texas, we have been talking to one another about 2012 in 2008. We are preparing somewhat on our own cause the Democrats around here are run by men who backed up Obama over Hillary.I wrote an article @ AllOpinions.com and my article is titled: Leadership by example. I have blogged since 2008, been on the local news, and been on the Jeff Bolton, Mike Gallagher, and Mark Davis show. I have mainly told Jeff Bolton since 2008, Hillary will run.People are starting to figure out Obama is a natural disaster and the US is in its 10h year of downward spiral financially.During the Texas primaries, Obama's team used Sexist key words and Race Card key words to intimitate voters into thinking Clinton is just another white person and the same old same old.If people looked into his history, he ran for State Senate and used dirty tactics to bump off 2 African-Americans. When elected, he allowed TONY REZKO to steal Government funds from the housing projects. 33% of Obama's district had money stolen by Rezko and Obama allowed it to happen and after the money was stolen, Rezko gives Obama a sweetheart deal with his land and contributions. During this same time, an Iraqi stole Federal funds during the Iraq war and is wanted in Iraq. This guy helped Obama.In Nevada(as Bill Clinton stated), Obama's team used voter intimidation to lessen Hillary's votes. In Iowa and Texas, Obama's team used intimidation to lessen Hillary's votes.Feb 2008, a big Obama worker(who is well connected to the Tarrant County Democrats) was interviewed by the Fort Worth Weekley. He made damaging remarks and I know the guy. He is well known to have Sexist views. It is ironic all over the US in 2007-2008, Obama's workers used Sexism and the Race Card to further his political career to win over Hillary and Obama got away with it.I am half Hispanic and half Caucasian female who is gay. I am a firm believer in equal rights and Obama is a step back for women even though he has nominated 2 women to the supreme court. I am originally from Illinois and Obama has a reputation of doing sexists tactics to get ahead.You will hear me again on the Dallas radio stations promoting Hillary to run.Thank youCindy from North Richland Hills Texas

        March 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Steveo

      I don't know his heart but when I am asked to agree with someone in prayer, I find out what I am agreeing to! Agreement is a powerful spiritual principle and that was my challenge to Canuhereme! I wasn't trying to be funny or casts stone. Again, I don't claim to know his heart one way or the other (NOBODY posting here does)! I just know i am working on MY relationsship with the Lord! My overall point is not to take agreement lightly.

      February 2, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
  10. Willie Floyd

    Our pres. shows his Christianity in his personal beliefs-that does not mean he is trying to shove it down anyone elses throat. I've been a Christian for 55+ yrs. That doesn't mean I don't respect the rights of non-Christians to hold their beliefs. It would be nice of those to respect our rights as well. I am a very strong supporter of separation of church and state-that doesn't mean I can't pray to make decisions that are better for the greater good and not just for me.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    February 2, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • jerrylax

      did you attend a racist and politically radical church? And then become president of the US? There is good reason to question this mans heart and faith.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
      • POT MEET KETTLE

        Jerry, you are a RADICAL RACIST PERIOD.

        February 2, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  11. Texas Dude

    Notarichboy, perhaps we should wire the white house with cctv cameras so that we can watch the Obamas around the clock to find out if they really pray in private. Sheesh, your hypocrisy is astounding!!!!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  12. Kris

    Notarichboy, you have no right to say that our President is not a Christian, the Bible says do not judge and that
    we should all go into our closets and pray. You cannot say whether he is or isn't, you don't know him personally nor do you know his relationship with God. If he says he is then I believe him and people need to move on!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • jerrylax

      WE HAVE THE RIGHTS TO JUDGE OUR PRESIDENT.. you goof ball!

      February 2, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
      • I DO DISAGREE

        YOU DO'NT HAVE A RIGHT TO JUDGE HIS FAITH/SPRITUALITY NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. JUDGE HIS POLITICS, POLICIES WHATEVER BUT HIS PERSONAL RELIGIOUS IS OFF, YOU MORON

        February 2, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  13. kayla

    Mr. President, you are one class act. keep soaring like an eagle, while the others crawl like snakes.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  14. dreamer96

    Attention ..

    Our deepest space probe the Voyager 1 encountered a space buoy with unusual character writing and a Galaxy map, on a large plaque 6 months ago..images where sent back to earth using our deep space network..Decoding by the worlds experts have produce this...

    The message has been found to be Mesopotamia a version of known Sumerian writing....the message states...Warning Galactic isolation planet ahead...alter your course...turn off all communications equipment till safely past isolation zone...contact forbidden...this civilization and it's inhabitants are just plain crazy...contact is forbidden..they only appear intelligent at first contact...

    February 2, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
  15. John Stefanyszyn

    …the president said, "We know that part of living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone can't dictate our response to every challenge we face. But in my moments of prayer, I'm reminded that faith and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our minds and our hearts to the needs of others."

    …“… asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us together and keep us strong,” he said.

    Asking God for guidance in the values of the nation…
    ….the values of freedom of rights.
    …the values in freedom of lifestyle
    …the values in freedom of speech
    …the values in freedom for one’s personal happiness
    …And also the values in the freedom of religion…a belief that states that there is no One Preeminent God, a belief that states that Christ is not the Only Way of Life, a belief that states that all “gods” are equal in validity in existence and worship , without discrimination or preference.

    But God said that He is the One and Only, that we are to serve Him and Only Him
    …and Christ said that we are to love the One Creator Father with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength…this means that we cannot love another “god”/ that there is no other.

    And yes, we can have the True Faith in the One True God , through Christ, guide our response to every challenge we face if we truly loved Him and our neighbor.

    February 2, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  16. dreamer96

    Mohandas Gandhi Quote
    I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

    February 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • Steveo

      Let me help with that . Gandhi went to visit a Christian Church. The folks woud not let him in as he wore traditional clothing! That was a shameful, unChristlike act, no doubt. Christians are people who are in need of forgiveness too! That takes nothing away from who Jesus is! Everybody struggles. The question is what will YOU do with Christ? Gandhi's experience cannot serve as your excuse! !

      February 3, 2012 at 8:07 am |
      • dreamer96

        Steveo

        I like that Steveo Thanks...

        History should be studied more and examined from many sides...I think there is more there to ...and Gandhi hit it right on the head..the royal crown was suppose to be a religious crown...and the British a Christan people..Gandhi won his arguments with the British by making them look at them selves and what they were doing in British India...

        That was one of Gandhi great powers..if Britain put him in front of a judge, he went, and he spoke of what he saw, and told what he saw as the truth...and if the judge put him in prison he went...And the next time Gandhi was called before the judge...the judges recognised Gandhi for what he was....Gandhi shamed the British Empire into change...one man followed by many..shamed the much more powerful British Empire...Just How often is that done..

        February 3, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
      • Thom

        He also said birth control was an insult to womanhood...

        February 5, 2012 at 12:36 am |
    • Steveo

      dreamer96,

      I imagine your point is we as Christians can and must do a better job of representing Christ. As a Christian, I would agree with you!

      if you have never seen Sir Ben Kingsley as Gandhi!, you have missed a great performance and movie! Highly recommended!

      February 3, 2012 at 9:27 pm |