President Barack Obama began his first full day in office with a prayer service at Washington's National Cathedral. The ecumenical prayer service preceded what is expected to be a busy day focusing on national security and economic matters.
Celebrants of more than a dozen faiths and religious denominations led an invitation-only service, and urged leaders on earth to maintain their faith and heed the teachings of God. National Cathedral Dean Samuel Lloyd noted that President Obama's plate is full with worldly concerns.
"Now the [Obama] administration goes to work - this is their first full day on the job," said Dean Lloyd. "And the best way we can imagine to begin is by praying with them. And for them. We have given them a great deal to do."
Mr. Obama was accompanied by his wife Michelle. Also attending were Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, as well as former President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, who at that hour was awaiting Senate confirmation as Secretary of State.
The service featured prayers for divine guidance for the new administration. Reverend Sharon Watkins is president of the Disciples of Christ Church.
"The leaders of this nation, we need you to be guided by the counsel that Isaiah gave so long ago: to work for the common good, for the public happiness, the well-being of the nation and the world, knowing that our individual well-being depends on a world in which liberty and justice prevail," said Reverend Watkins.
Other celebrants included Jewish Rabbis, a Catholic bishop, a Greek Orthodox Christian archbishop, the president of the Islamic Society of America, and the head of the Hindu Temple Society of North America.
The post-inaugural religious service extends back to America's first president, George Washington, who began the tradition. President Obama regularly speaks of faith and his belief in God, but made a point in his inaugural address to say that America derives its strength from its diversity, which he said includes non-believers.
While pausing for prayer, the wheels of the Obama administration were already turning on more than one front.
In one of his first acts as president, Mr. Obama took action to bring about a suspension of military trials for terror suspects at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The president has said he wants to close down the site, where the U.S. still holds about 245 men.
The president's first full day in office also includes a meeting with his top national security and military advisors to start re-evaluating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He will also tackle the economic crisis. Mr. Obama is expected to issue new regulations to force greater transparency on the part of financial institutions that receive government rescue money.