Here is a transcript of Rick Warren’s prayer from the inauguration. Hasty, preliminary, and half-baked comments follow.
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 goodwill 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.”
1. The prayer was prayed in the name of Jesus. Whatever else was spoken, it was a Christian prayer. Warren was being a faithful minister of the gospel.
2. I think it is quite significant that he led the assembled company in the Lord’s Prayer. Frankly, I was surprised. It added a connection to Scripture, to liturgy, to tradition, that rooted the prayer in the historic Christian faith and the Christian church.
3. Warren delighted in the fact that “we are Americans, united not by race, or religion, or blood.” Not united by race or blood? Certainly. Not united by religion? Is this a good and acceptable thing? Is it a descriptive statement or a prescriptive statement? What if he had prayed: “we are Americans united not by race or blood and though not bound by religion, yet we must repent, yet there is but one Lord of our nation, Jesus Christ the crucified and risen one.” Would he have been roundly drummed out of Washington … by other Christian ministers?
4. The tired rhetoric of “a peaceful planet” makes me want to vomit. The knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. That is the only peace.
5. “And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.” Psalm 2. Yes.
6. It lacked poetry. It leaves me feeling dry. Whatever we might say about Rev. Lowery’s benediction (see #7), it had a certain rhythm and poetic texture to it, with rich biblical imagery and powerful metaphors. Warren’s prayer felt like a Baptist preacher — now, let me finish — giving an invitation prayer. I know what he’s going to say before he says it.
7. Compared to Lowery (“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 — (laughter) — when yellow will be mellow — (laughter) — when the red man can get ahead, man — (laughter) — and when white will embrace what is right.”), Warren was positively dignified and sober.
You have any half-baked thoughts of your own?