President Obama Recently Shows Subtle Signs of Faith

President Obama gave remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington at a time when he is starting to show more subtle expressions of faith in recent months.

He attended church just after Christmas while on vacation in Hawaii, and also went just a few weeks later on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend in D.C.

Those two visits to church were rare occasions for a president who has gone to church a handful of times since coming into office.

Those visits follow some other faith gestures.

At the National Christmas Tree lighting last December, he mentioned that he and the first lady are Christians.

"Each year we've come together to celebrate a story that has endured for two millennia. It's a story that's dear to Michelle and me as Christians, but it's a message that's universal: A child was born far from home to spread a simple message of love and redemption to every human being around the world," Obama said.

Thursday Obama got a little more personal and told the crowd at the National Prayer Breakfast that faith wasn't really in his background or instilled much from his parents, but nearly 20 years ago he accepted Christ as his savior. The president said his faith though wasn't always a "straight line" and had some "twists and turns."

He said his faith has grown since coming into office, and even more so when others doubt it.

"My Christian faith then has been a sustaining force for me over these last few years, all the more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned from time to time. We are reminded that ultimately what matters is not what other people say about us, but whether we're being true to our conscience and true to our god. Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you, as well," Obama said.

Obama said that his prayers focus on three areas: 1) General prayers to face challenges, often out of urgency 2) Humility 3) To grow closer to God.

"You know, in our own lives, it's easy to be consumed by our daily worries and our daily concerns, and it is even easier at a time when everybody's busy, everybody is stressed, and everybody, our culture, is obsessed with wealth and power and celebrity, and often it takes a brush with hardship or tragedy to shake us out of that, to remind us of what matters most," he said.

But even though he spoke Thursday morning openly about religion, critics still press that he could always address it more, and easily shut down myths if he were to be more public about it.

It's been an ongoing communication struggle for the White House -- a Christian president who battles misperceptions about his faith. A Pew Research poll out last fall noted that 18 percent of Americans erroneously believe he's Muslim. He also had to overcome the hurdle of fiery speeches aired during the 2008 campaign from his former Chicago pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Obama was able to distance himself from association with Wright and used it as a bouncing off point to give a major speech on the status of race in the country.

While Obama said he was going to pick a church home in D.C., he has rather visited different churches when he does go. Many observers noted there was an extra layer of scrutiny if he didn't pick a historically black church.

He also goes to the chapel at the presidential retreat at Camp David, which serves as a very private place of worship for him.

Obama has a daily private and personal moment of faith each day as well.

The president receives a daily devotional on his blackberry every morning and regularly seeks the counsel of pastors for guidance. For example, he sought their input on a Bible verse to include in his remarks after the tragic shooting in Tucson.

"Scripture tells us that there is evil in the world, and that terrible things happen for reasons that defy human understanding. In the words of Job, "When I looked for light, then came darkness. Bad things happen, and we have to guard against simple explanations in the aftermath." Obama said.

Obama also quoted the book of Job in Thursday's remarks at the prayer breakfast.

"As it's written in Job, God's voice thunders in marvelous ways. He does great things beyond our understandings. 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. And I pray for this wisdom every day," he said.