So the question you might be asking is, "What was so inspiring about the National Prayer Breakfast in 2012?" Answer: The boldness of Eric Metaxas. I don't know if you are aware of Metaxas, but I was first introduced to him as I watched C-Span's Book TV about nine months ago. I know . . . I know . . . it sounds a bit nerdy to watch "Book TV," but I gave up caring about people calling me a "nerd" years ago. Furthermore, there are times when it is very enlightening to listen to an author, and Metaxas has written a biography on one of my favorite heroes: Dietrich Bonhoeffer. So when my cousin sent me a link to watch Metaxas speak at the Prayer Breakfast, I was intrigued, and you can watch the youtube video of his speech below.
The above being said, there is something else that needs to be pointed out: President Obama spoke after Metaxas at the event. The problem of course is that if there is ever someone who struggles to communicate Christian faith, it would be our President. Metaxas spoke boldly about transforming faith in Jesus Christ - faith that transforms the person and faith that by its nature calls us forth to protect the helpless. It's a personal faith in the one and only Living God.
What could Obama say? Was it awkward?? Yes, incredibly awkward. The faith of Metaxas is the faith that is costly. After all, he is the one who wrote a biography on Bonhoeffer who is famous for saying, "When Christ calls a man, He calls him to come and die." Hmm . . . no matter what our President attempts to say about Christian faith, somehow his words fall short. He can speak of "faith and values and morals" (plenty of this in his speech), but those how know a deep and personal Jesus, also know that the real issue at stake in humanity centers on an individual's response to a person who visited us 2000 years ago, died for us on a cross, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and poured out His Holy Spirit.
Where does this leave our President? His effort to say he is "a Christian" and "a man of faith" only communicates something far less. Near the end of Obama's speech he says, "I found Christ when I wasn't even looking for Him," but on every level the "Christ" our President refers to does not appear to have made him into a new man. For Bonhoeffer, this is the worst type of faith. It is the faith that knows the form of religion, but denies its power. Or to put it another way, it is not the faith that is costly. I hate to say it, from all appearances it is cheap grace - the kind of grace that Bonhoeffer gave his life to teach and preach against.
So what's my point? My point is not to bash the President (I truly hope my words are not interpreted as bashing. I think that President Obama is in a difficult position talking about "faith" when he has not experienced transforming faith that comes from a surrendered life.) My point is to call people to pray for him. He has had a variety of experiences - including meeting with Billy Graham (as he describes in his speech). What would happen if President Obama met the Living God? What would happen if he discovered God's perspective on his life and Presidency? What would happen if Obama surrendered to Him?
Metaxas tells us to pray for our enemies. Should we not pray for our President?
“Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.