Obama Opens Up About His Faith, Prays for Peace in Egypt at National Prayer Breakfast

President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 03, 2011. CBS

President Obama said on Thursday he prays for an end to the ongoing violence in Egypt on Thursday, as well as for "the rights and aspirations of the Egyptian people."

Speaking at Thursday's annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, the president told Mark Kelly - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband - that his wife was in his prayers and that "we are with them for the long haul." Kelly spoke at the eventafter Mr. Obama.

"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," Mr. Obama said. "God is with them for the long haul."

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He added, that "we're also mindful of the violence that we're now seeing in the Middle East."

"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," Mr. Obama said.

The president spoke about his own experience with faith, which he said his experience as president had strengthened.

"The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray," Mr. Obama quipped. "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.'"

He also opened up about his experience finding his faith, which he called a "sustaining force" in his life.

Noting that he "did not come from a particularly religious family," Mr. Obama said it was faith leaders of the civil rights movement who had initially inspired his life of service - but that his experience as a community organizer in Chicago inspired his Christian faith.

"A call rooted in faith is what led me, just a few years out of college, to sign up as a community organizer for a group of churches on the south side of Chicago," Mr. Obama said. "It was through that experience, working with pastors and laypeople, trying to heal the wounds of hurting neighborhoods, that I came to know Jesus Christ for myself and embrace him as my lord and savior."

He added that one of the major themes among his prayers was humility - a prayer which he said God had answered early on "by having me marry Michelle."

Speaking more seriously, Mr. Obama said that as a politician, it was sometimes helpful to "go back to scripture to remind ourselves that none of us has all the answers."

"The challenge I find, then, is to balance this uncertainty, this humility with the need to fight for deeply held convictions, to be open to other points of view, but firm in our core principles," he continued. "And I pray for this wisdom every day."

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