The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
April 04, 2012
Remarks by the President at Easter Prayer Breakfast
9:43 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. (Applause.) (1)
Please, have a seat. Have a seat. Well, welcome to the
White House. It is a pleasure to be with all of you this morning.
In less than a week, this house will be overrun by thousands of kids at
the Easter Egg Roll. (Laughter.) So I wanted to get
together with you for a little prayer and reflection -- some calm
before the storm. (Laughter.) (3)
It is wonderful to see so many good friends here today. To all
the faith leaders from all across the country -- from churches and
congregations large and small; from different denominations and
different backgrounds -- thank you for coming to our third annual
Easter prayer breakfast. And I’m grateful that you’re here. (4)
I’m even more grateful for the work that you do every day of the year
-- the compassion and the kindness that so many of you express through
your various ministries. I know that some of you have joined with
our Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. I’ve
seen firsthand some of the outstanding work that you are doing in your
respective communities, and it’s an incredible expression of your
faith. And I know that all of us who have an opportunity to work
with you draw inspiration from the work that you do. (5)
Finally, I want to just express appreciation for your prayers.
Every time I travel around the country, somebody is going around
saying, we’re praying for you. (Laughter.) We got a prayer
circle going. Don’t worry, keep the faith. We’re praying.
(Laughter.) (6) Michelle gets the same stuff.
And that means a lot to us. It especially means a lot to us when
we hear from folks who we know probably didn’t vote for me --
(laughter) -- and yet, expressing extraordinary sincerity about their
prayers. And it’s a reminder not only of what binds us together
as a nation, but also what binds us together as children of God. (7)
Now, I have to be careful, I am not going to stand up here and give a
sermon. It’s always a bad idea to give a sermon in front of
professionals. (Laughter.) But in a few short days, all of
us will experience the wonder of Easter morning. And we
will know, in the words of the Apostle Paul, “Christ Jesus...and Him
It’s an opportunity for us to reflect on the triumph of the
resurrection, and to give thanks for the all-important gift of
grace. And for me, and I’m sure for some of you, it’s also a
chance to remember the tremendous sacrifice that led up to that day,
and all that Christ endured -- not just as a Son of God, but as a human
For like us, Jesus knew doubt. (10) Like us, Jesus
knew fear. In the garden of Gethsemane, with attackers closing in
around him, Jesus told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed with
sorrow to the point of death.” He fell to his knees, pleading
with His Father, saying, “If it is possible, may this cup be taken from
me.” And yet, in the end, He confronted His fear with words of
humble surrender, saying, “If it is not possible for this cup to be
taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (11)
So it is only because Jesus conquered His own anguish, conquered His
fear, that we’re able to celebrate the resurrection. It’s only
because He endured unimaginable pain that wracked His body and bore the
sins of the world that He burdened -- that burdened His soul that we
are able to proclaim, “He is Risen!” (12)
So the struggle to fathom that unfathomable sacrifice makes Easter all
the more meaningful to all of us. It helps us to provide an
eternal perspective to whatever temporal challenges we face. It
puts in perspective our small problems relative to the big problems He
was dealing with. And it gives us courage and it gives us hope. (13)
We all have experiences that shake our faith. (14) There are times where we have questions for God’s plan relative to us (15) -- (laughter) -- but that’s precisely when we should remember Christ’s own doubts and eventually his own triumph. (16)
Jesus told us as much in the book of John, when He said, “In this world
you will have trouble.” I heard an amen. (Laughter.)
Let me repeat. “In this world, you will have trouble.” (17)
AUDIENCE: Amen! (18)
THE PRESIDENT: “But take heart!” (Laughter.) “I have
overcome the world.” (Applause.) We are here today to
celebrate that glorious overcoming, (19) the sacrifice of a risen savior who died so that we might live. (20) And I hope that our time together this morning will strengthen us individually, as believers, and as a nation. (21)
And with that, I’d like to invite my good friend, Dr. Cynthia Hale, to
deliver our opening prayer. Dr. Hale. (Applause.)
9:50 A.M. EDT
Critique Notes of Barack Obama’s Easter Prayer Breakfast Speech
1) It is better to receive praise from God than from men.
Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of
the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of
the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of
God. John 12:42-43.
2) Events leading to the death of Jesus Christ were not pleasurable.
When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found
them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep?
Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” Luke 22:45-46
3) The Resurrection of Jesus Christ was a time of joy not storm.
Now Jesus knew that they desired to ask Him, and He said to them, “Are
you inquiring among yourselves about what I said, ‘A little while, and
you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’?
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the
world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be
turned into joy. John 16:19-20.
4) Christian prayer should not be openly boastful before everyone.
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love
to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets,
that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their
reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have
shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and
your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:5-6.
5) Christian giving should not be openly apparent to everyone.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be
seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before
you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that
they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their
reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand
know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in
secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you
openly.” Matthew 6:1-4.
6) Drawing close to God in prayer is not a laughing matter.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you
sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn
and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to
gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you
up. James 4:8-10.
7) Only those who have received Jesus Christ are children of God.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become
children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not
of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of
God. John 1:12-13.
8) In context, Christians will preach Christ crucified to a lost world.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach
Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks
foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ
the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.
9) The purpose of the sacrifice was for the reconciliation of mankind.
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,
and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things
on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of
His cross. Colossians 1:19-20.
10) Jesus Christ never doubted.
So Jesus answered and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, if you
have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the
fig tree, but also if you say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast
into the sea,’ it will be done. And whatever things you ask in prayer,
believing, you will receive.” Matthew 21:21-22.
11) Jesus Christ never feared.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But
rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
12) Jesus Christ foreknew that He was going to die.
But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man
should be glorified. Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of
wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies,
it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who
hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone
serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be
also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor. Now My soul is
troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But
for this purpose I came to this hour.” John 12:23-27.
13) Faith in Jesus Christ give Christians hope for the future.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God
through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by
faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the
glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations,
knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance,
character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because
the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit
who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5.
14) Christians will focus on Jesus Christ in times of trouble.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of
witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily
ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before
us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for
the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame,
and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2.
15) Christians will focus on Jesus Christ not their political ambitions.
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in
him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6If anyone
does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and
they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If
you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you
desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified,
that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John 15:5-8.
16) Christians will remember the death of Jesus Christ for their sins.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that
the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread;
and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is
My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the
same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the
new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in
remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this
cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians
17) Christians will have trouble if they take their focus off of Jesus Christ.
Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? Indeed the hour is coming,
yes, has now come, that you will be scattered, each to his own, and
will leave Me alone. And yet I am not alone, because the Father is with
Me. These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have
overcome the world.” John 16:31-33.
18) Amen should be shouted to the glory of God not to Barack Obama’s political woes.
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the
preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery
kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the
prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the
commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith— to God,
alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen. Romans
19) Christians will remember the death of Jesus Christ for their sins.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were
still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been
justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For
if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of
His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His
life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord
Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
20) The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives Christians a living hope.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according
to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through
the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance
incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in
heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for
salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5.
21) Christians are strengthened through faith in Jesus Christ.
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about
like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast
in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your
brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us
to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while,
perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and
the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:8-11.