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At Prayer Breakfast, Obama Calls for Humility, Unity

  • Kent Klein

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, Feb. 7, 2013.

President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the National Prayer Breakfast, Washington, Feb. 7, 2013.

President Barack Obama on Thursday said the spirit of humility and unity at Washington’s annual Prayer Breakfast needs to last longer.

Speaking to hundreds of political and religious leaders in attendance at the Washington Hilton, the president said prayer transcends political divisions, but that he's disappointed the spirit of the Prayer Breakfast fades so quickly.

“But I do worry sometimes that as soon as we leave the Prayer Breakfast, everything that we have been talking about, the whole time of the Prayer Breakfast, seems to be forgotten ... on the same day of the Prayer Breakfast,” he said.

The president called on the leaders to keep the same humility demonstrated by presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and civil-rights leader Martin Luther King Junior.

Addressing the importance of prayer in his own life, he spoke in personal terms about how Christian Scriptures guide him in his life and his presidency.

“As president, sometimes I have to search for the words to console the inconsolable," he said. "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.”

The Prayer Breakfast has been held each year since 1953, when President Dwight Eisenhower began the tradition.

The prime ministers of Serbia and the Democratic Republic of Congo were in attendance, as was new Secretary of State John Kerry.

Olympic gold-medal gymnast Gabby Douglas gave a closing prayer, and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli provided music.

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