Obama urges humility and prayer at 2013 National Prayer Breakfast

Published: Thursday, Feb. 7 2013 5:26 p.m. MST

Andrea Bocelli, standing right, sings during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, attended by President Barack Obama, center, first lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Joe Biden, Thursday, Feb. 7, 2013, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Manuel Balce Ceneta, ASSOCIATED PRESS

National leaders should be humble and live out the prayers offered at Thursday's National Prayer Breakfast, President Barack Obama said at the annual event.

"We’d like to think the shelf life (of the prayer breakfast) wasn’t so short. I go back to the Oval Office and start watching the cable news networks, and it’s like we didn’t pray. So, my hope is that humility, that that carries over every day," the president said.

Huffington Post noted that Obama made no mention of the political positions he has taken that have put him at odds with religious organizations around the country.

Instead, he spoke of the uniting power of faith, according to a report in the Christian Post.

"We come together because we're a people of faith. We know that faith is something that must be cultivated," Obama said.

The Daily Mail reported that the visibly fatigued president reflected on his personal faith and his use of scripture. "Sometimes I search scripture to determine how best to balance life as a president and as a husband and as a father. I often search for scripture to figure out how I can be a better man as well as a better president."

Obama told the audience of national and international leaders, "Those of us with the most power and influence must be the most humble."

Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, host of this year's breakfast, responded by thanking Obama for being his president, the Associated Press reported.

Atheist blogger Hemant Metha took exception to the president saying all Americans, including secular ones, have a “deep abiding faith in this nation.”

"If Obama really wants to make an effort to reach out to secular Americans, he doesn’t have to offer us second-rate lip service at a religious event. I would much rather he avoid participating in events like these," Metha wrote in the Washington Post's On Faith blog.

But that's not likely to happen any time soon, according to historians quoted in a CNN report about presidents and their faith.

“I think that it is pretty clear that presidents have employed religious terms, not just in times of tragedy, but throughout their career, in order to seem more relatable and a little bit more like their constituencies,” said Darrin Grinder, co-author of “The Presidents and Their Faith.”

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