There have been many Christians, sadly, who have violated the basic Christian rule of ‘in all things charity’ when it comes to evaluating the Christian faith of our President. It continues to be questioned, unfairly, again and again, perhaps because of his name, perhaps because of his race, perhaps because of who his father was. Whatever the reason, any person who self-identifies persistently as a Christian, and at personal cost to him with various audiences (there were actually protests against his going to this prayer breakfast), needs to be taken seriously and at his word, giving that person the benefit of the doubt. We, unlike God, do not look upon a person’s heart, nor see what is in it. Here are some of the things the President said at the National Prayer Breakfast today as reported by Lucy Madison, Julie Pace, and others.
The president spoke about his own experience with faith, which he said his experience as president had strengthened.
“The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray,” Mr. Obama quipped. “Abe Lincoln said, as many of you know, ‘I have been driven to my knees many times by the overwhelming conviction that I had no place else to go.’”
He also opened up about his experience finding his faith, which he called a “sustaining force” in his life.
Noting that he “did not come from a particularly religious family,” Mr. Obama said it was faith leaders of the civil rights movement who had initially inspired his life of service – but that his experience as a community organizer in Chicago inspired his Christian faith.
“A call rooted in faith is what led me, just a few years out of college, to sign up as a community organizer for a group of churches on the south side of Chicago,” Mr. Obama said. “It was through that experience, working with pastors and laypeople, trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods, that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace him as my lord and savior.”
He added that one of the major themes among his prayers was humility – a prayer which he said God had answered early on “by having me marry Michelle.”
Obama said he had prayed for God’s intervention on any number or occasions, not always on the weightiest issues of the day.
At one point, the president said he has prayed, “Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance, where there will be boys. Lord, let her skirt get longer as she travels to that place.” Twelve-year-old Malia is the older of his two daughters. Sasha is 9.
Speaking more seriously, Mr. Obama said that as a politician, it was sometimes helpful to “go back to scripture to remind ourselves that none of us has all the answers.”
“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,” he continued. “And I pray for this wisdom every day.”