Rick Warren's Invocation

Rick Warren provided an unlikely invocation during President Obama’s inauguration today.  Following this summer’s posts on Christian prayers in the public sphere, I’d like to know what others think about the prayer.  He clearly did not bow to public pressure from just about every corner to “lighten” the prayer and not pray it in Jesus’ name.

I think he did an admirable job, clearly knowing a good portion of the people there were not interested in what he had to say, but nevertheless being unafraid to speak the truth.  Opponents of Warren may have something to say about his theology or methods, but you can’t say anything about this guy’s courage.  He prayed what needed to be prayed.

Here is the video of the prayer:

And the text:

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

The Scripture tells us Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one. And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.

Amen.

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Pray for Bolivia

Please pray for the country of Bolivia.  Although there has been violence for years now (to say nothing of the myriad of civil wars and military coups), it has been getting worse lately.  It appears the nation is on the brink of yet another civil war, with violence spilling out even in the usually peaceful province of Tarija.

I bring this up for a few reasons.  First, because violence of all types should dishearten us; while I’m not optimistic enough to believe in a completely peaceful world, I believe we must pray to that end.  Second, because we have many Christian brothers and sisters there whose lives are being affected by this.  Finally, because my parents and younger brother minister in Bolivia.  Call it selfish, but I pray they will be safe.

Almighty God,
from whom all thought of truth and peace proceed:
kindle, we pray, in the hearts of all, the true love of peace
and guide with your pure and peaceable wisdom
those who take counsel for the nations of the earth
that in tranquillity your kingdom may go forward,
till the earth be filled with the knowledge of your love;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Collect for the Peace of the World (Common Worship)

Let's Mix It Up A Bit

While the discussion is/was good at the post about Don Miller’s prayer, let’s mix it up a bit.  Here is a transcript of pastor Joel Hunter‘s prayer after Barack Obama’s acceptance speech:

We are all here to devote ourselves to the improvement of this country we love. In one of the best traditions of our country, would those of you who are people of faith join me in asking for God’s help?

Almighty God, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us a reverence for all life. Give us a compassion for the most vulnerable among us – the babies, the children, the poor, the sick, the enslaved, the persecuted. For all of those who have been left out of the advantaged world. Give us a zeal to clean the environment we have polluted while we create an economy where everyone who can work can have a job. Help us to honor those who defend our country by working harder and smarter for peace. Help us to counter those that incite fear and hatred by becoming people who are informed and respectful and are known for principles and projects that aim higher than our own group’s benefit. Guide Barack Obama and all of our leaders to be agents of your will and recipients of your wisdom. And grant that all of us citizens will continually do our part to contribute to the common good by loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Now, I interrupt this prayer for a closing instruction: Because we are gathered in a country that continues to welcome people of all faiths, let us personalize this prayer by closing according to your own tradition. On the count of three, end your prayer as you would usually do. Amen! Let’s go out and change the world for good!

Now, I’m not posting this prayer to jump all over the guy*, so let’s please be civil in the comments.  But, how does this work as a Christian prayer?  It seems to me to be pretty good until the last paragraph, where he kind of ruins it.  In my mind, ending a prayer with “amen”, whether in public or private, makes no sense.  You say you are praying to Almighty God, but by what right do you have to assume you can?  Why do you think you can “boldly approach the throne”?  This is, of course, to say nothing of having everyone end the prayer as they would.

*In case you’re wondering why I post so many prayers, I’m a public prayer geek, I like to read them and consider how others pray in public; it’s a personal interest of mine that is admittedly a bit odd.

A Prayer for Labor Day

Labor Day, being an American civic holiday, has little to do with the church.  While many churches celebrate other non-religious holidays (Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.) this day is largely ignored.  (Perhaps because conservative Christians are often at odds with organized labor?)  Work, however, does have much to do with the Christian, and as such I find this prayer apt.

St. Joseph, the husband of Mary, is the Catholic patron saint of workers.  The hope of this prayer is that we will live the example that he, as well as others such as Peter and Paul, have set before us.  To work is a mandate from God, no matter who we are (or what Child we are responsible for).

O God, the Creator of all things, You have laid the law of labor upon the human race. Grant, we beseech You, that by the example of St. Joseph we may perform the work You command and attain to the reward that You promise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Donald Miller's Benediction at the DNC

Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz as well as other books, gave the benediction at the Democratic National Convention yesterday.  Here’s a transcript of his prayer (HT: Resounding Truth):

Please join me for the next few moments in our Benediction.
“Father God,
This week, as the world looks on, help the leaders in this room create a civil dialogue about our future.
We need you, God, as individuals and also as a nation.
We need you to protect us from our enemies, but also from ourselves, because we are easily tempted toward apathy.
Give us a passion to advance opportunities for the least of these, for widows and orphans, for single moms and children whose fathers have left.
Give us the eyes to see them, and the ears to hear them, and hands willing to serve them.
Help us serve people, not just causes. And stand up to specific injustices rather than vague notions.
Give those in this room who have power, along with those who will meet next week, the courage to work together to finally provide health care to those who don’t have any, and a living wage so families can thrive rather than struggle.
Help us figure out how to pay teachers what they deserve and give children an equal opportunity to get a college education.
Help us figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony.
We have tried to solve these problems ourselves but they are still there. We need your help.
Father, will you restore our moral standing in the world?
A lot of people don’t like us but that’s because they don’t know the heart of the average American.
Will you give us favor and forgiveness, along with our allies around the world?
Help us be an example of humility and strength once again.
Lastly, father, unify us.
Even in our diversity help us see how much we have in common.
And unify us not just in our ideas and in our sentiments—but in our actions, as we look around and figure out something we can do to help create an America even greater than the one we have come to cherish.
God we know that you are good.
Thank you for blessing us in so many ways as Americans.
I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice.
Let Him be our example.
Amen.”

So, what do you think of this prayer?  Let’s not address whether or not he should have prayed at all (as he says in the interview linked to above, “Someone asks you to pray, you pray.”), but the substance of it.  I agree with many who say it’s somewhat vague, but does that make it a bad prayer?  What say ye?