Obama On Faith: Praying for Egypt, Gabby Giffords…And For Patience As Malia Goes To Her First Dance With Boys

By Kristina

Feb 3, 2011 11:13am

ABC News’ Sunlen Miller reports: At the National Prayer Breakfast, in a personal speech about his own faith President Obama today said he’s praying for the situation in Egypt, Gabby Giffords’ continued recovery….and that his daughter Malia’s skirt will get longer as she’s about to go to her first dance with boys.

“We pray that the violence in Egypt will end and that the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people will be realized, and that a better day will dawn over Egypt and throughout the world,” the president said at the breakfast at the Washington Hilton hotel this morning.

The undertone of the prayer breakfast this morning though was the tragedy in Tucson. Gabby Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly gave the closing prayer – in which he updated the nation on his wife’s recovery.

“Every day she gets a little better,” Mark Kelly said of his wife’s recovery, “the slope of that curve is important.”

Kelly said that over the last month he’s had to rely on his faith  – and told his wife two days ago that maybe what happened to her was fate, part of a larger plan, something that he had not believed in before this tragedy.

“I thought the world just spins and the clocks just tick and things happen for no particular reason,” he said, “I can only hope, and I told Gabby the other night, that maybe it’s possible that it’s just one small part of that same plan that the horrible and tragic was not merely random and that something good can come from all this.”

Kelly repeated the prayer given by Giffords’ rabbi over her hospital bed the night of the shooting.

President Obama told Mark Kelly the nation is with their family for the long haul.

“We have been praying for Mark’s wife, Gabby Giffords, for many days now, but I want Gabby and Mark and their entire family to know that we are with them for the long haul, and God is with them for the long haul.”

The president spoke personally about his faith, as he does on rare occasion, mentioning how a tragedy like Tucson can make some reach out to faith even more.

“Often it takes a brush with hardship or tragedy to shake us out of that to remind us of what matters most,” the president said, “we watch a gunman open fire in a supermarket, and we remember how fleeting life can be. And we ask ourselves, how we have treated others, whether we’ve told our family and friends how much we love them. And it’s in these moments when we feel most intensely our mortality and our own flaws and the sins of the world that we most desperately seek to touch the face of God.”

The president said that his own “faith journey” has had its “twist and turns.” He joked that he now prays for his teenage daughter, Malia, just entering the world of dating.

“My prayers sometimes are general: Lord, given me the strength to meet the challenges of my office. Sometimes they’re specific: Lord, give me patience as I watch Malia go to her first dance. Where there will be boys. Lord, have that skirt get longer as she travels to that dance.”

The president said he also prays for humility, something that is given to him by his wife.

“God answered this prayer for me early on by having me marry Michelle because whether it’s reminding me of a chore undone, or questioning the wisdom of watching my third football game in a row on Sunday she keeps me humble. “

Calling his faith a “sustaining force” the president noted that at times his faith has been questioned.

“My Christian faith, then, has been a sustaining force for me over these last few years — all the more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time. We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us but whether we’re being true to our conscience and true to our God.”

The president said that in a life of politics when “debates have become so bitterly polarized and changes in the media lead so many of us just to listen to those who reinforce our existing biases,” that it is useful to go back to scripture to  “remind ourselves that none of us has all the answers — none of us, no matter what our political party or our station in life. “

The president said that the “full breadth of human knowledge is like a grain of sand in God’s hands. And there are some mysteries in this world we cannot fully comprehend. “

With a large smile the president said that in the last two years president his faith has been deepened.

“The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray. 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.”

The president said his faith helps him from being “overwhelmed,” and reminds him that “despite being just one very imperfect man, I can still help whoever I can however I can wherever I can for as long as I can, and that somehow God will buttress these efforts.”

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