December 18, 2008
How Should Warren Then Pray?
California megachurch pastor Rick Warren will be preaching at 16 Christmas services and was not available for an interview with Christianity Today. However, he sent us a statement about his decision to pray at Barack Obama's inauguration, in response to the criticism Obama has received for inviting Warren.
"I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the Invocation at his historic Inaugural ceremony.
Hopefully individuals passionately expressing opinions from the left and the right will recognize that both of us have shown a commitment to model civility in America.
The Bible admonishes us to pray for our leaders. I am honored by this opportunity to pray God’s blessing on the office of the President and its current and future inhabitant, asking the Lord to provide wisdom to America’s leaders during this critical time in our nation’s history."
Obama's pick also begs the question that David Waters asks in the Washington Post's On Faith section: "To Whose God Will Rick Warren Pray?"
Billy Graham used inclusive language when he delivered the Inaugural Invocation in 1989. "0 God, we consecrate today George Herbert Walker Bush to the presidency of these United States," he said. But four years later, Graham ended his invocation at Bill Clinton's 1993 inauguration this way: I pray this in the name of the one that's called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Amen."
Waters also reminds readers that in 2001, Franklin Graham ended his invocation with, "in the name of the father, and of the son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Spirit." And Kirbyjon Caldwell ended with, "'We respectfully submit this humble prayer in the name that's above all other names, Jesus the Christ."
At the DNC, Blue Like Jazz author Donald Miller ended his prayer with "I make these requests in the name of your son, Jesus, who gave his own life against the forces of injustice," putting a slight emphasis on I. Florida megachurch pastor Joel Hunter took a more unconventional approach during his benediction.
Now I interrupt this prayer for a closing instruction. I want to personalize this. I want this to be a participatory prayer. And so therefore, because we are in a country that is still welcoming all faiths, I would like all of us to close this prayer in the way your faith tradition would close your prayer.
So on the count of three, I want all of you to end this prayer, your prayer, the way you usually end prayer. You ready? One, two, three.
In Jesus' name, Amen.
Let's go change the world for good.
Waters also asks another question: "Does it matter?" What do you think?