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August 25, 2008

Don Miller's Benediction

Updated post: Here's the video of Miller's benediction:

Did anyone else wonder whether his introductory comment about the appropriateness of praying for good weather was a reference to the (pulled) Focus on the Family video on praying for rain?

Earlier Monday, Miller posted the text on his website. (They're posted after the jump.)

I'm honored to deliver the closing prayer at the DNC. Evangelical voices have been scarce within this party, perhaps since the Carter administration. But as strides are being made on key issues of sanctity of life and social justice, as well as peaceful solutions to world conflicts, more and more evangelicals are taking a closer look at options the Democratic Party are beginning to deliver. There is a long way to go, but sending a message to Washington that no single party has the Christian community in their pocket, thus causing each party to carefully consider the issues most important to us, is, in my opinion, a positive evolution. I am glad that, for the most part, the dialogue has been constructive and positive. Will you join me in keeping the conversation thoughtful and not reactionary?

That said, I am honored to speak to, and especially pray with and for, the DNC. Here is the full text of the prayer:

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.

Hep 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."

Comments

Say what? He wants to "figure out the balance between economic opportunity and corporate gluttony"? Corporate gluttony isn't a legitimate goal. Healthy corporate return on investment, yes. But gluttony?

I was chagrined with a few things, particularly treating Jesus as history's best Democrat in essence and boiling down the atoning work of Christ as a mere example against suffering injustice:

http://psalm8410.blogspot.com/2008/08/donald-millers-dnc-prayer-misrepresents.html

This was a prayer not a sermon. Thanks Don for your prayer, you are a good man. I am curious what others might have prayed?

That answers one question--I was really curious if he would invoke Jesus' name. Good for him. It's a tough balancing act in this type of setting of being true to your faith and respecting differences. I won't critique the rest of the prayer.

I feel like this may be an important step in forcing both parties to consider taking a more holistic approach to the social issues facing our world.

Sometimes evangelicals make me wonder if they would have criticized Jesus in Luke for his answer to the thief on the cross. (Shouldn't Jesus have said, "Look, you can't just ask me to let you be with me this day in paradise. You must acknowledge my divine nature, my atoning blood, and the absolute necessity of baptism.")

One more comment: Is there really no such thing as corporate gluttony? Enron, anyone?

Good prayer...nice commentary...good sermon! Was anybody listening? God?

Why are Democrats even praying? If you read their philosophy, policies and financial supporters, you will get the answer.

If he had actually PRAYED this prayer, it might be worth some admiration. But he read it from a teleprompter, eyes open and staring straight at the camera (which of course is positioned directly below the teleprompter). As a pastor, I was embarrassed by this, since it did not appear to me that he was there as a pastor - rather, he was there as a political player, reciting a carefully scripted 'religious ending' to the day's activities. Frankly, Barack Obama is a more effective 'preacher' than this man was.

Really? Jesus gave his life against the forces of injustice? Sure that may have been part of it, but I distinctly remember reading somewhere about how we have all sinned, sin separates us from God, we needed a redeemer, God sent His son, Jesus carried our sins so that we could be forgiven and be reconciled with God, His resurrection guaranteed our resurrection. I think the issues of injustice are important to God, very important, and as such should be very important to us, but I don't think Jesus died to raise the minimum wage or to save a tree.

I love how some commenters treat a 2 minute prayer as if this is supposed to be Donald Miller's entire statement of faith.

Considering the audience, I think it was brilliant. His prayer was appropriate for the setting and effective in its context.

Regarding his reading from the teleprompter, I don't think he had a choice in the matter. Still, if God was watching it on CSPAN, by looking in the camera he would have been looking directly at the Almighty. (hehe)

I normally don't comment on these sorts of things, however, I feel like I need to speak here.

The more I know Christians, including myself, the more I realize how we all judge too quickly who is "right" and who is what we perceive is "wrong." First, God calls to love, not judge. Love people where they are, not where you think they need to be. It's amazing how so many nonbelievers don't like Christians because they are so judgmental, as they say. Has anyone had nonbelievers say, "I could be wrong here but from what I understand what Jesus talks about is to love and not all that crazy judgmental stuff I hear all of the time." I say to them, "You're right and I'm sorry if you've seen some Christians not be so loving when that's really what God asks of us."

As we come up to this very critical election, remember the two greatest commandments: to love God and love people as yourself. If that's all we do then how can we go wrong?

How do love God and people when we vote? Live from our mundane tasks like going to grocery store or deal with annoying drivers? How do we love while commenting about someone's prayer at the DNC? How do we love hurting people like the low-income single mom? How do love the scared and pregnant teen? How do we love protesters who don't love but instead show hate? How do we love homosexuals? How do we love corporate execs? How do we love?

It's funny as I'm writing this I kept thinking I hope I'm trying to sound judgmental here. Then I started thinking that someone will probably pick a part my own theology when they read into something I wrote. Frankly, this is exactly what I'm talking about.

Just love.

PS: God is neither Republican nor Democrat; in fact, God isn't an American either.

What's a Christian doing anywhere NEAR the party of death?

I read the sermon (prayer) and scratch my head. Evangelicals must be involved in politics to inject Biblical standards of righteousness into the system. However, a party that promotes abortion is not a party that has any moral standing. Is there corporate glutteny? Absolutely! But free welfare for all is equally immoral. While Jesus said there would always be the poor. The Bible also says that if you don't work, you don't eat. Free government handouts are not an incentive to achieve, but rather a fast track to defeat. While both parties have their respective faults, the DNC remains the proabortion party with total disregard to Scripture. I notice how Rev. Miller did not address the need for wisdom to change that in their platform.

lastly, Jesus did not die becaue of the injustice in the world. He died according to the eternal purpose and plan of God to redeem the world of their sin which was the result of Adam's disobedience in the garden. Jesus Christ came to be the savior of the world, not in a political manner, but rather to redeem their spiritually dead condition. The planet will be redeemed from the curse of sin only after it has been destroyed (2 Peter).

It is time for evangelicals to stand and proclaim that the salvation of the world will only come through the gospel message outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4. If we want to change the world, we must first change hearts and souls. Jesus came into this world to save sinners. We must proclaim THAT message.

I just don't understand how you can in one sentence say that Evangelicals must be involved to bring "righteousness into the system" and then criticize him for praying.

Second point, your exegesis needs some work. Look at the context for why Jesus said there would always be poor, it was in regard to worshiping Jesus. It has absolutely nothing to do with Christians not working to alleviate poverty. Similar point about working to eat, that direction from Paul was for Christians living within a communal system. It again has nothing to do with Christians trying to alleviate poverty. Third, while Jesus died to redeem the world, part of the redemption of the world that Jesus wants us to work on is to work to eliminate injustice. I am not defending the DNC here or trying to condemn the RNC. I am simply asking that we think about our theology and how that influences our faith. And if our theology causes us to not serve the poor, then it is bad theology. I agree that we should proclaim the gospel and only through the change of hearts and lives will the world change. But 1 Cor 15 only asks that you preach the whole gospel. And the whole gospel includes the redemption of the world, not just the salvation of individuals.

Wow! No wonder the world loves Jesus but hates the church. Not sure I like it much right now either. Many of these comments reveal how we idolize our doctrines & disobey Jesus' two greatest commandments.

It seems to me that Donald Miller could have rightly used the platform either to offer a non-partisan prayer or to, in a favorite phrase of liberals, "speak truth to power." (Abortion, anyone?) Instead, he chose to shill for the Democratic Party in prayer and presented Jesus to a party filled with secularists as just another activist like them who died fighting injustice, rather than as Savior & Lord who calls all to repentance and obedience.

There is a vast difference between making critical (whether negative or positive or both) statements about a prayer, especially under these circumstances, and not showing love to the one praying and the One prayed to. One has nothing to do with the other, nor does one contradict the other - in fact loving God with our heart, soul and strength and mind demands that we critically appraise public comments to or about Him. There is nothing unloving about it.

As we age, we seem to be going two directions as people. Some become more judgmental and some learn to judge less. I don't know all the answers, but I am certainly going to be the last to judge Donald Miller. Mr. Miller makes some good points in the interview he held before this prayer. Christians are not only not succeeding in protecting the sanctity of life, but are clearly succeeding at alienating the rest of the world. We can no longer vote on this two item agenda and forsake the very real needs of people who live in this world. We gain nothing by adhering ourself so closely to one party and rebuking anyone who does not see it from our limited perspective. Believe it or not, God is not a republican...or a democrat. Thanks for praying Don.

Wow. He doesn't even look like what I imagined after reading his books and the way he described himself as a fat, long-haired hippie type. He's got a great speaker's voice. I doubt marriage did all that for him.
Anyway, Jesus didn't say if you don't work you don't get doctor's services, or long-term rehab,or medication. I hope God doesn't humble you who said that by giving you some chronic disease. But, then, my God wouldn't do that unless it was for your good. He's a good God and he keeps hoping we will get a clue to be just as good to our fellow man/woman who are just as undeserving as we are. He did say that if we give a cup of water to someone in his name, we have given it to him. Politics are a good way to worship, don'tcha think?

That had to be TOUGH! Talk about walking the line! This was one time I was OK being called an evangelical. Most of the time I'm not very proud of the title.

Well chosen words for a prayer that I just many at the convention and TV, including Republicans, really heard from Donald's heart! Thanks!!

I am fascinated at the concentration on a single issue--as serious as it is. To deny God's presence among members of one party or another, or to think that God might agree with exclusionary politics whereby a single issue become the litmus test suggest a tiny, tiny god, not the God who raised Jesus. Granted, abortion is a serious problem, and so is the poverty which makes it an option along with the "It's all about me" culture which commodifies even human life. But get the bigger picture friends; and God is larger than even that

What's a Christian doing anywhere NEAR the party of death?

Janny, both major parties in the US of A have blood on their hands. Surely you're not blind the fact that this present administration has caused much bloodshed via its economic, ecological and military policies these past eight years? Nearly 100,000 civilians are dead in Iraq alone. I too am disheartened that the Democratic party does not adopt more of a 'consistent life' ethic (see http://zoecarnate.com/#prolife for examples), but I think we need to recognize that the GOP isn't exactly bending over backward to repeal Roe v. Wade either. And why would they? It's such an effective tool to get 'single issue' Christian voters to vote predictably. But there *are* other ways to curtail abortion in America. Steve Knight has a thoughtful piece on "Where I Stand Today on Abortion," right here: http://www.knightopia.com/journal/?p=956

I wonder if the Church in America will eventually take the Democrats as its official party, in the way it has taken the Republicans in the past. Miller, like the DNC's first choice (Don was apparently second-string) was carefully chosen to appeal to a certain segment of American Christianity. They know that segment will likely feel mindlessly drawn to (or drawn further into) the party mystique, simply because of Miller's presence. Like their Republican counterparts, they wish to court her for as long as it serves their interests, and then promptly drop her in the gutter like a cheap whore when it doesn't - when everything that made her beautiful and powerful is gone. Miller obviously wrote the prayer ahead of time, which is to be expected, but it was doubtlessly vetted by the party stooges. There is no way I would allow myself and the people I would represent to be used in such a manner; there is no way I would have accepted that invitation without being able to say exactly what I thought of the Democrats, the Republicans, and the political powers-that-be in general. Miller said a few good things in a harmless sort of way, but when your message is indistinguishable from a party's platform, you have become a tool of that party. I'd rather have a prophet.

Health care and taking care of the poor WILL NOT slow abortion rates. Look up the statistics its all about convienence. Just as they sacrificed children to Molech, the god of sensuality and convienience, back in the day so will they be sacrificed today to the same god. How any Christian can downplay this issue is beside me. Donald Miller's stands on the issue is wrong. (Read his interview on this site). His agenda in this prayer and working with Obama does not seem to line up with Christian duties. Backing a prospective president that votes for parcial birth abortions is rediculously foolish for someone who wishes to see all abortion rates go down. I once looked up to D Miller but when I see someone "walk the line" as many have pointed out about his prayer it is disapointing. I would expect boldness from a man of God of such stature not a washed out lets not step on anyones toes prayer. Jesus came to divide the world not unify it.