The annual National Prayer Breakfast bills itself as a celebration of faith and togetherness. Unfortunately, President Barack Obama noted, that spirit doesn't last much past the coffee.
During his speech at the breakfast Thursday morning at the Washington Hilton, where he spoke before community and religious leaders as well as some lawmakers, the president lamented the current tone in Washington.
"I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the prayer breakfast, everything we've been talking about the whole time at the prayer breakfast seems to be forgotten. On the same day of the prayer breakfast," Obama said, and paused as the attendees laughed. "I mean, you'd like to think the shelf life wasn't so short. I go back to the Oval Office and I start watching the cable news networks, and it's like we didn't pray."
Obama used his speech to call for the country's most powerful lawmakers, including himself, to conduct themselves with humility to God, and for all citizens and lawmakers to strive to find common ground. Obama noted fights over the deficit, taxes and education.
"This morning I want to summon the resolve that comes from our common faith," Obama said, speaking of the country at large.
Obama also used Thursday's speech to reflect on the Bibles he used during his inauguration last month: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s traveling Bible and the one President Abraham Lincoln used for his swearing-in in 1861. He noted the adversity and challenges they each faced and their desire for guidance from God.
Obama also reflected on his personal faith and his use of the scripture, saying, "As president I sometimes have to search for the words to console the inconsolable. 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."