Here is the text from Rick Warren’s prayer at the Presidential inauguration of Barack Obama. Warren and Obama have come under attack from the right and the left leading up to this event regarding Obama’s choice of Warren and the content of this prayer. Christians wanted to be sure that Warren prayed a specifically Christian prayer, while others wanted a general prayer and no mention of anything uniquely Christian. Below is the text of Rick Warren’s prayer. Tell me what you think.
“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 O 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 hingepoint 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, O 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 [Spanish pronunciation], Jesus, 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.””
Wow, I’d definitely classify that as a “uniquely Christian” prayer, with references to both the Old and New Testaments. So he didn’t sacrifice his own personal beliefs or pretend that he’s not a Christian. But Warren also did a good job of using lots of inclusive language, recognizing that we are all Americans, but not all are Christians. I think he got it just right!
Great Blog! Congratulations! In my point of view, Rick Warren performed a Christian prayer based in what not only USA expects but everybody that lives in this planet urgently demand. Obama is not an instantaneous hero, he must be a great hero during all his term. Obama’s most power should be guided by his faith in God and personally I believe that State does not require religion but The President must believe in someone greater, like Jesus for example. I am from Brazil, a country that lacks a plentiful democracy and to me this inauguration represent certainly a change in my mind. Rick Warren was very good in every word that he uttered. Good Luck Obama!
Both President Obama and Rick Warren deserve credit for crossing a bridge that was not many of their constituents would have been afraid to cross. Christians need to be bridge builders or we become isolated within the walls of our sanctuaries. Bridge building, without sacrficing our beliefs takes courage, wisdom and guidance from the Holy Spirit.
2 Corinthians 5:18 reminds us that we have been given the ministry of reconciliation. Building bridges and then building relationships are the first steps in this God-appointed ministry.
Obama and Warren do deserve credit for not caving to the pressure around them. It would have been much easier to do the “safe” thing, but they stood their ground.
You also make a good point that I believe is neglected in many churches. We are to build bridges without sacrificing our beliefs. It often seems like we want those on the outside to build the bridges to us as they adapt to our ways.
I feel that Rick Warren truly gave a Christian prayer here. Even though he stays away from saving that Yahweh is the true God, but instead saying that Jesus is the one that change his life (implying that this is his truth but not every one’s). Ending with the Lord’s prayer really made this a prayer of a Christian. I feel though an issue of equal value or even slightly more is the other 2 prayers involved in the inauguration process. That of Gene Robinson was if anything a generic prayer to ___(your god here)___. Calling God the “God of our many understanding” is a bit generic, but then he comes right out and says “Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable in the human community”. This obvious non-religion specific note shows a huge contrast to that of Warren’s. Maybe this is Barack’s way of covering all of his bases to offend the least amount of people as possible. Lastly we have the benediction, given by good old Rev. Joseph Lowery. The highlight of this benediction really comes at the end. If you have not heard this I really recommend it. His conclusion is this “Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around when yellow will be mellow when the red man can get ahead, man and when white will embrace what is right”. At first I found this very funny (and still do), especially because of the setting it was given in. But one must wonder if these words are offensive. I do not believe they are meant to be, but I could see how they could be taken badly. Luckily Lowery’s humorous delivery takes away most offensive parts.
hat the inauguration really came down to was President Barack Obama asked 3 different people to give prayers at his inauguration. That act should not be over looked. He did not tell them what to say but rather asked them to pray. He like any one Christian, seems to value prayer. The Lord knows that we could always use some more of that.
Thanks for bringing this up. It is good to point out that President Obama did ask others to pray, even if Warren’s was the most visible because it was the invocation (there can only be one asked to do this). Also, I do see how Lowery’s words could offend. I am sitting here wondering how to take them myself. I will assume they were light-hearted as you say you believe they were.