Forgive me my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.Placing prayers written on paper into a crack of the Western wall is a custom that dates back to around the 18th century when Ohr Ha-chaim wrote an amulet for a man who needed aid and told him to place it in a crack in the wall. The notes are supposed to be a private exchange between God and the petitioner. Removing them to read the contents is considered sacrilegious.
I like Obama's prayer, especially the balance he strikes between pride and despair. I'd never thought of those two as a binary, and perhaps Obama didn't intend to position them as such, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
I also like the way he wrote it on hotel stationery - a classy touch I hope the Lord appreciates.