The annual National Prayer Breakfast was held this morning at the Washington Hilton International Ballroom in the Nation’s Capital. The annual event, held on the first Thursday of February was first established by President Eisenhower in 1953 and brings together a bipartisan group of political and religious leaders, as well as a diverse group of activists, to pray for America.
Initially called the Presidential Prayer Breakfast, the name was changed in 1970 to the National Prayer Breakfast which is attended by some 3,500 guests, including international invitees from over 100 countries. Although the event is inclusive of many faiths, it is hosted by The Fellowship Foundation, a Christian organization that calls for leaders “to come together under the leadership example of Jesus.”
"As Christians we place our faith in the nail-scarred hands of Jesus Christ," Obama said at the prayer breakfast. He referenced Hebrews 11:6, stating, "Without faith it is impossible to please God."
The president also reminded the audience that the U.S. comes together because Americans are a people of faith. "We come together because we're a people of faith. We know that faith is something that must be cultivated." He went on to say, "We are united in the knowledge of a redeeming savior whose grace is sufficient.”
USA Today reports the president’s referring to last month's inaugural ceremony and noted that he took the oath of office with Bibles owned by two icons who relied on faith to face immense personal and national challenges: Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
As the civil rights movement faced violent resistance in the 1950s and 1960s, Obama said, "We know that in Scripture, Dr. King found strength."
Lincoln also found "solace in Scripture" during the Civil War of the 1860s, Obama said, and "that allowed him to become a better leader."
"Today, the divisions in this country are, thankfully, not as deep or destructive as when Lincoln led, but they are real," the President said. "The differences in how we hope to move our nation forward are less pronounced than when King marched, but they do exist." Meeting them demands both faith and humility, Obama said, adding: "Let me suggest that those of us with the most power and influence need to be the most humble."
In his address, Obama also revealed that Joshua DuBois, the head of the Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, will be leaving his position on Friday. Dubois, a Pentecostal minister, served as religious affairs director for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.