Does Obama Pray?

How hard can it be to take 10, 15, 20 minutes a day for dedicated prayer or reflection and contemplation? Loyola Press has it down to a daily 3-Minute Retreat sent right to your Facebook page. And yet the commitment to any regular prayer practice can often feel like one more burden to “fit in” to our hectic schedules, one of those “shoulds” that my spiritual director often cautions me against. I often feel like I just have too much to do today, that my mind is just too preoccupied to truly center. “Prayer will come easier when I’m less rushed. I have so much important stuff to get done today,” I reason.

hand open in prayerIgnatius warned retreatants that there would be times prayer felt dry and unproductive. His prescription: double our efforts at those times. When I feel like I can’t do 10 minutes of prayer, I need to do 20. I need to get back to the realization that it is only in these times of oneness with God when I can make sense of the preoccupations of my day.

Imagine the daily pressures on someone like President Obama. Does he make time for prayer and contemplation? I certainly hope so! So much is riding on his every action and decision. Aren’t my actions and decisions worthy of the same consultation with the One who empowers my life? And yet I justify not praying by thinking that my responsibilities are so important that I must get to them right away. If I expect people in positions of high authority, with far more pressing schedules than mine, to make time for prayer, how can I not make time myself?

Our prayer time is when we put ourselves at the disposal of God. Ignatius calls for a “great spirit and generosity toward their Creator and Lord,” when we approach our prayer time, “offering all desires and freedom to Him so He can make use of their persons and of all they possess.” It is in offering that short 10, 15, 20 minutes a day that we truly offer the whole of our lives to the will of God.

Previous articleA Recipe for Dealing with Burnout
Next articleDiscovering Your Dream
Lisa Kelly is a wife, mother, and Ignatian Associate living in Omaha, Nebraska. She works to help organizations integrate spirituality into their planning and systems. She and her husband, Tom, completed the 19th Annotation in 2005, just prior to spending two years living in the Dominican Republic with their three young children, supporting the work of the Jesuit Institute for Latin American Concern. Additionally they have lived in El Salvador and Bolivia for extended periods.


  1. “I have been driven many times
    upon on my knees
    by the overwhelming conviction
    that I had nowhere else to go.
    My own wisdom and that of all about me
    seemed insufficent for that day.” — Abraham Lincoln
    President Obama quoted that line from President Lincoln in a speech he gave some time ago. I would like to think that President Obama prays as a first response, rather than as a last resort.
    After reading this excellent post from Ms. Kelly, I know that rather than pointing an accusing, partisan finger at anyone, I am even now redoubling my own stammering efforts at daily prayer. Every day. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me…

  2. In President Obama’s case, and that of others, I pray FOR him. In prayer at night, I try to offer an open “YES” for those who don’t pray, aren’t prayed for, and those whose lives demand of them the prayer support of the extended Body of Christ. I think as Christians we have a reasonable expectation that we stand in the gap for one another – as Christ did – and we intercede where others can’t. So often my prayer is over the same things, but we are also told to pray without ceasing and be like the widow before the judge. I am reminded to wait for results in the answers I get. It is these answers that come after LONG supplication that are often the most gratifying.

  3. I think a lot of people are afraid of sitting down and thinking of “serious things” because, if they do, everything will just come crashing down on them…prayer time is one moment of the day when you sit down and think of “serious things” and many people fear that they won’t get up again if they sit down once…

  4. What a beautiful reminder to spend time with God who is the centre of our lives! This is an excellent follow-up to Becky’s post yesterday. Thank you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here