President Barack Obama bows his head in prayer before awarding the Medal of Honor posthumously to Chaplain (Captain) Emil J. Kapaun, U.S. Army, in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 11, 2013. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

[Huffington Post]

WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is not an overtly religious man. He and his family rarely attend church, and he almost never elaborates in public about his own relationship to his Christian faith.

But far away from the public eye, his longtime advisers say, the president has carefully nurtured a sense of spirituality that has served as a grounding mechanism during turbulent times, when the obstacles to governing a deeply divided nation seem nearly insurmountable.

Every year on Aug. 4, the president’s birthday, Obama convenes a group of pastors by phone to receive their prayers for him for the year to come. During the most challenging of times, prayer circles are organized with prominent religious figures such as megachurch pastor Joel Hunter, Bishop Vashti McKenzie of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, a civil rights activist.

And each morning for the past five years, before most of his aides even arrive at the White House, Obama has read a devotional written for him and sent to his BlackBerry, weaving together biblical scripture with reflections from literary figures like Maya Angelou and C.S. Lewis.

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