President Obama kõne Rahvuslikul Palvushommikusöögil Washington DC-s

President Obama gave these remarks at the National
Prayer Breakfast on February 2, 2012

Thank you. Please, please, everybody have a seat. Well, good morning, everybody.
It is good to be with so many friends united in prayer. And I begin by giving
all praise and honor to God for bringing us together here today.

I want to thank our co-chairs Mark and Jeff; to my
dear friend, the guy who always has my back, Vice President Biden. (Applause.)
All the members of Congress –- Joe deserves a hand –- all the members of
Congress and my Cabinet who are here today; all the distinguished guests who’ve
traveled a long way to be part of this. I’m not going to be as funny as Eric —
(laughter) — but I’m grateful that he shared his message with us. Michelle and
I feel truly blessed to be here.

This is my third year coming to this prayer breakfast
as President. As Jeff mentioned, before that, I came as senator. I have to say,
it’s easier coming as President. (Laughter.) I don’t have to get here quite as
early. But it’s always been an opportunity that I’ve cherished. And it’s a
chance to step back for a moment, for us to come together as brothers and
sisters and seek God’s face together. At a time when it’s easy to lose ourselves
in the rush and clamor of our own lives, or get caught up in the noise and
rancor that too often passes as politics today, these moments of prayer slow us
down. They humble us. They remind us that no matter how much responsibility we
have, how fancy our titles, how much power we think we hold, we are imperfect
vessels. We can all benefit from turning to our Creator, listening to Him.
Avoiding phony religiosity, listening to Him.

This is especially
important right now, when we’re facing some big challenges as a nation. Our
economy is making progress as we recover from the worst crisis in three
generations, but far too many families are still struggling to find work or make
the mortgage, pay for college, or, in some cases, even buy food. Our men and
women in uniform have made us safer and more secure, and we were eternally
grateful to them, but war and suffering and hardship still remain in too many
corners of the globe. And a lot of those men and women who we celebrate on
Veterans Day and Memorial Day come back and find that, when it comes to finding
a job or getting the kind of care that they need, we’re not always there the way
we need to be.

It’s absolutely true that meeting these challenges
requires sound decision-making, requires smart policies. We know that part of
living in a pluralistic society means that our personal religious beliefs alone
can’t dictate our response to every challenge we face.

But in my moments of prayer, I’m reminded that faith
and values play an enormous role in motivating us to solve some of our most
urgent problems, in keeping us going when we suffer setbacks, and opening our
minds and our hearts to the needs of others.

We can’t leave our values at the door. If we leave our
values at the door, we abandon much of the moral glue that has held our nation
together for centuries, and allowed us to become somewhat more perfect a union.
Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, Jane Addams, Martin Luther King, Jr.,
Dorothy Day, Abraham Heschel — the majority of great reformers in American
history did their work not just because it was sound policy, or they had done
good analysis, or understood how to exercise good politics, but because their
faith and their values dictated it, and called for bold action — sometimes in
the face of indifference, sometimes in the face of resistance.

This is no different today for millions of Americans,
and it’s certainly not for me.

I wake up each morning and I say a brief prayer, and I
spend a little time in scripture and devotion. And from time to time, friends of
mine, some of who are here today, friends like Joel Hunter or T.D. Jakes, will
come by the Oval Office or they’ll call on the phone or they’ll send me a email,
and we’ll pray together, and they’ll pray for me and my family, and for our

But I don’t stop there. I’d be remiss if I stopped
there; if my values were limited to personal moments of prayer or private
conversations with pastors or friends. So instead, I must try — imperfectly,
but I must try — to make sure those values motivate me as one leader of this
great nation.

And so when I talk about our financial institutions
playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure
insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or
making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most
vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the
economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too
many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last
few years, and I believe in God’s command to “love thy neighbor as thyself.” I
know the version of that Golden Rule is found in every major religion and every
set of beliefs -– from Hinduism to Islam to Judaism to the writings of

And when I talk about shared responsibility, it’s
because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a
time when we have enormous deficits, it’s hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed
income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can
barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. And I think to myself, if I’m
willing to give something up as somebody who’s been extraordinarily blessed, and
give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that’s going to
make economic sense.

But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with
Jesus’s teaching that “for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.” It
mirrors the Islamic belief that those who’ve been blessed have an obligation to
use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and
consideration for others.

When I talk about giving every American a fair shot at
opportunity, it’s because I believe that when a young person can afford a
college education, or someone who’s been unemployed suddenly has a chance to
retrain for a job and regain that sense of dignity and pride, and contributing
to the community as well as supporting their families — that helps us all

It means maybe that research lab on the cusp of a
lifesaving discovery, or the company looking for skilled workers is going to do
a little bit better, and we’ll all do better as a consequence. It makes economic
sense. But part of that belief comes from my faith in the idea that I am my
brother’s keeper and I am my sister’s keeper; that as a country, we rise and
fall together. I’m not an island. I’m not alone in my success. I succeed because
others succeed with me.

And when I decide to stand up for foreign aid, or
prevent atrocities in places like Uganda, or take on issues like human
trafficking, it’s not just about strengthening alliances, or promoting
democratic values, or projecting American leadership around the world, although
it does all those things and it will make us safer and more secure. It’s also
about the biblical call to care for the least of these –- for the poor; for
those at the margins of our society.

To answer the responsibility we’re given in Proverbs
to “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all
who are destitute.” And for others, it may reflect the Jewish belief that the
highest form of charity is to do our part to help others stand on their

Treating others as you want to be treated. Requiring
much from those who have been given so much. Living by the principle that we are
our brother’s keeper. Caring for the poor and those in need. These values are
old. They can be found in many denominations and many faiths, among many
believers and among many non-believers. And they are values that have always
made this country great — when we live up to them; when we don’t just give lip
service to them; when we don’t just talk about them one day a year. And they’re
the ones that have defined my own faith journey.

And today, with as many challenges as we face, these
are the values I believe we’re going to have to return to in the hopes that God
will buttress our efforts.

Now, we can earnestly seek to see these values lived
out in our politics and our policies, and we can earnestly disagree on the best
way to achieve these values. In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Christianity has not,
and does not profess to have a detailed political program. It is meant for all
men at all times, and the particular program which suited one place or time
would not suit another.”

Our goal should not be to declare our policies as
biblical. It is God who is infallible, not us. Michelle reminds me of this
often. (Laughter.) So instead, it is our hope that people of goodwill can pursue
their values and common ground and the common good as best they know how, with
respect for each other. And I have to say that sometimes we talk about respect,
but we don’t act with respect towards each other during the course of these

But each and every day, for many in this room, the
biblical injunctions are not just words, they are also deeds. Every single day,
in different ways, so many of you are living out your faith in service to

Just last month, it was inspiring to see thousands of
young Christians filling the Georgia Dome at the Passion Conference, to worship
the God who sets the captives free and work to end modern slavery. Since we’ve
expanded and strengthened the White House faith-based initiative, we’ve
partnered with Catholic Charities to help Americans who are struggling with
poverty; worked with organizations like World Vision and American Jewish World
Service and Islamic Relief to bring hope to those suffering around the

Colleges across the country have answered our
Interfaith Campus Challenge, and students are joined together across religious
lines in service to others. From promoting responsible fatherhood to
strengthening adoption, from helping people find jobs to serving our veterans,
we’re linking arms with faith-based groups all across the country.

I think we all understand that these values cannot
truly find voice in our politics and our policies unless they find a place in
our hearts. The Bible teaches us to “be doers of the word and not merely
hearers.” We’re required to have a living, breathing, active faith in our own
lives. And each of us is called on to give something of ourselves for the
betterment of others — and to live the truth of our faith not just with words,
but with deeds.

So even as we join the great debates of our age — how
we best put people back to work, how we ensure opportunity for every child, the
role of government in protecting this extraordinary planet that God has made for
us, how we lessen the occasions of war — even as we debate these great issues,
we must be reminded of the difference that we can make each day in our small
interactions, in our personal lives.

As a loving husband, or a supportive parent, or a good
neighbor, or a helpful colleague — in each of these roles, we help bring His
kingdom to Earth. And as important as government policy may be in shaping our
world, we are reminded that it’s the cumulative acts of kindness and courage and
charity and love, it’s the respect we show each other and the generosity that we
share with each other that in our everyday lives will somehow sustain us during
these challenging times. John tells us that, “If anyone has material possessions
and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be
in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and
in truth.”

Mark read a letter from Billy Graham, and it took me
back to one of the great honors of my life, which was visiting Reverend Graham
at his mountaintop retreat in North Carolina, when I was on vacation with my
family at a hotel not far away.

And I can still remember winding up the path up a
mountain to his home. Ninety-one years old at the time, facing various health
challenges, he welcomed me as he would welcome a family member or a close
friend. This man who had prayed great prayers that inspired a nation, this man
who seemed larger than life, greeted me and was as kind and as gentle as could

And we had a wonderful conversation. Before I left,
Reverend Graham started praying for me, as he had prayed for so many Presidents
before me. And when he finished praying, I felt the urge to pray for him. I
didn’t really know what to say. What do you pray for when it comes to the man
who has prayed for so many? But like that verse in Romans, the Holy Spirit
interceded when I didn’t know quite what to say.

And so I prayed — briefly, but I prayed from the
heart. I don’t have the intellectual capacity or the lung capacity of some of my
great preacher friends here that have prayed for a long time. (Laughter.) But I
prayed. And we ended with an embrace and a warm goodbye.

And I thought about that moment all the way down the
mountain, and I’ve thought about it in the many days since. Because I thought
about my own spiritual journey –- growing up in a household that wasn’t
particularly religious; going through my own period of doubt and confusion;
finding Christ when I wasn’t even looking for him so many years ago; possessing
so many shortcomings that have been overcome by the simple grace of God. And the
fact that I would ever be on top of a mountain, saying a prayer for Billy Graham
–- a man whose faith had changed the world and that had sustained him through
triumphs and tragedies, and movements and milestones –- that simple fact humbled
me to my core.

I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since
that moment — asking God for guidance not just in my personal life and my
Christian walk, but in the life of this nation and in the values that hold us
together and keep us strong. I know that He will guide us. He always has, and He
always will. And I pray his richest blessings on each of you in the days

Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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