January 7, 2009
Religion News Service asked several religious leaders what they would have prayed for if they had been asked to pray at Barack Obama's inauguration.
Posted below include responses from evangelicals, such as Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham; the Rev. Wilfred De Jesus, Chicago pastor and an adviser to Obama's campaign; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal.
Some of the responses have been edited for length and clarity:
Author and speaker Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of evangelist Billy Graham.
"We bow before you as the one, true, living God.
In a world of confusion, you are the way. In a world of political correctness, you are the truth. In a world of death, you are eternal life.
Thank you for our freedom which has not come easily, and is even nowbeing defended by the courageous sacrifice of those willing to lay down their lives. May we never abuse it or take it for granted.
Protect us from enemies outside our borders and from the sinful influences that have torn down the barriers of safety around our hearts and minds.
Restore our families, schools, churches, and communities: that parents would step up as leaders; pastors would shepherd their flocks; teachers would impart wisdom with their instruction; and individuals would take responsibility for their own lives.
We ask that you would bless President Obama with wisdom to make decisions that are right; courage to stand against that which is wrong; innovative ideas to solve problems; heartfelt compassion to meet human needs; patience to respectfully work out differences; counselors who speak the truth; family members and friends who love, encourage and support him.
Give our new president a powerful, fresh encounter with yourself, so that on your behalf, he would exercise kindness, justice, and righteousness in this nation, and in the world.
Most of all, we pray that we would be reminded that the change we long for, and the change we can truly believe in, is in the human heart as we turn in repentance and trust to you. Give our country the strength, the power, and the means to live out your will to your glory.
In the name of your son, our savior, Jesus Christ, Amen."
The Rev. Wilfred De Jesus, pastor of New Life Covenant Ministries in Chicago, and an adviser to Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
"Lord God Almighty, you are the author and initiator of change. Today, we stand on the precipice of change, faced with war, as well as economic, environmental, and immigration crises. Yet as in the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Let us not wallow in the valley of despair... even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow," may we hold on to our dreams.
Our country was founded on the dream of brave Americans, and throughout our history, you have raised up prophetic men and women to help us stay the course. Humbly, we ask for the strength to put our hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day -- one of freedom and peace.
We pray for our new leader, President Barack Obama. Our hope as a nation does not rest on him, but on you alone, Lord. And yet, we pray he would be a man of his word and remain faithful to the promises he has made. May he walk with integrity. Bless him with a double portion of your anointing, with courage and wisdom to lead this great country towards peace.
We also pray for our nation, that we would not be divided by our past but be united by your purpose and plan for our future. May we realize our potential as one nation under God, according to our ideals of liberty and democracy. May we pursue our dreams in this land of
In this time of great turbulence and change, we give all the glory and honor to the one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We surrender all these things in Jesus name, Amen."
The Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference
"Righteous God, heavenly father, we give you praise and declare that your mercy endures forever. In the midst of moral relativism, a global war on terror, economic uncertainty, social injustice and strife, we declare that what America needs most is a fresh move of God's Holy Spirit.
Let the spirit of truth move from New York to Los Angeles, from Dallas to St. Paul. Let the spirit of freedom sound the alarm of righteousness and justice, from Wall Street to Main Street, from our classrooms to the courtrooms.
As we give you the glory for the election of Barack Obama, Almighty God, we pray that all Americans come together: black, white, Hispanic, Asian. Let us unite under the canopy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
We stand against the voices that attempt to draw us apart and commit ourselves to focusing on what holds us together: our love of God, family and country. Let this generation arise as the firewall against the spirit of violence, poverty, death and injustice.
Lord, we present unto thee Barack Obama. Cover, protect and anoint him as he leads the charge in defense of faith, family and freedom. At the end of the day, Lord, may we declare thy kingdom come, thy will be done. For the kingdom of God is not red state or blue state, man or woman, native or immigrant, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. We hereby consecrate Barack Obama as president of the United States. In the name above all names we pray, Amen."
The Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of Sojourners/Call to Renewal
"Oh God, we find ourselves in a moment of both excitement and worry, the paradox of hope and pain. Many tired souls have been lifted up by the promise and possibility that lies before our nation and the hopes of a new generation are giving strength and encouragement to many.
But it is also a time of great fear and growing pain as our economic crisis threatens the future, leaving many of us vulnerable. We are faced with the challenge to celebrate hope in the midst of insecurity and uncertainty.
We turn to you, oh Lord, in a time of shifting sand to put our trust on a rock that will not be moved. Teach us the lessons of putting false hopes in the material world, and forgive us for succumbing to the allures of consumption and greed.
May this structural crisis reveal our spiritual crisis and cause us to repent of all that led us to this place. Change us, renew us, and remind us of what is truly important. May we learn that the common good is our own good. Quicken our hearts for the most vulnerable in our country and world, and help us to remember that each of us is a precious child of God."