Obama calls his Christian faith a 'sustaining force'

President Obama on Thursday called his Christian faith a "sustaining force," especially in the face of those who have publicly doubted it.

The president said he feels strengthened in his religious convictions when his detractors question them — a nod to those who incorrectly assert that Obama is Muslim.

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"My Christian faith has been a sustaining force for me over the years, all the more so when Michelle and I hear our faith questioned," Obama said at the National Prayer Breakfast.

The president reflected on how his faith and prayers had been particularly helpful for him in the wake of recent tragedies: the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) last month, as well as the ongoing turmoil in Egypt.

"We have been praying for Mark's wife, Gabby Giffords, for many days now," Obama said, referring to Mark Kelly, who delivered the closing prayer at the breakfast. "[W]e are with them for the long haul, and God is with them for the long haul."

The president made his first public statement since Monday evening remarks on the strife in Egypt. He's remained largely behind closed doors at the White House as his administration mulls its response to the situation there.

"Even as we pray for Gabby, in the aftermath of the tragedy here at home, we're also mindful of the violence we're now seeing in the Middle East. We're praying that the violence in Egypt will end, and the rights and aspirations of Egyptians will be realized," Obama said.

Obama reflected more broadly on the role of faith in politics. He noted that moments of prayer and reflection are too frequently linked with moments of tragedy.

"My prayer this morning is that we might seek his face not only in those moments, but each and every day," he said.