Perhaps you heard the news about a giant prayer gathering in Houston, Texas yesterday called “The Response.” About 25,000 people gathered to pray and to hear messages from a variety of different speakers. One of the speakers was Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is expected to announce his candidacy for U.S. President by the end of the month.
Because of Perry’s expected announcement, there has been a lot of media hype leading up to this event. Some have been quite pleased that Perry would be participating. But others have been apoplectic that a candidate for president would so blatantly kick down the wall of separation between church and state.
I did not see any of the event except for Perry’s speech. So I cannot speak about who else was on the platform or what they said. But what I heard from Perry was pretty remarkable. I think I can say that I have never heard this kind of talk from someone considered to be a serious contender for the presidency. His remarks were not partisan. In fact, they were not even political. His whole speech was about thirteen minutes long, and it had three parts: introduction, scripture, prayer.
In part one, he offered some general remarks about God’s purposes being not primarily political but salvific. Here’s a sampling of what Perry said:
Like all of you, I love this country… Indeed the only thing that you love more is the living Christ…
He didn’t leave us to live a life in our sins. But paid the price for them. He who knew no sin, He gave His life in ransom for many…
His agenda is not a political agenda. His agenda is a salvation agenda…
He is a wise, wise God. And He is wise enough to not be affiliated with any political party.
In part two, Governor Perry read at length from three passages of scripture: Joel 2:12-17, Isaiah 40:28-31, and Ephesians 3:14-21. It was here that one got a sense of Perry’s understanding of the purpose of the gathering. It sounded like Perry understood the purpose of the event in terms of Joel 2:12-17, which calls for a sacred assembly of all the people to repent. Perry quoted from the text at length:
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion, declare a holy fast, call a sacred assembly. 16 Gather the people, consecrate the assembly; bring together the elders, gather the children, those nursing at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room and the bride her chamber. 17 Let the priests, who minister before the LORD, weep between the temple porch and the altar. Let them say, “Spare your people, O LORD. Do not make your inheritance an object of scorn, a byword among the nations. Why should they say among the peoples, ‘Where is their God?’ ”
In part three, Governor Perry prayed. He included a stark confession on behalf of the country, “as a nation, we have forgotten who made us, who protects us, who blesses us. And for that we cry out for your forgiveness.” He interceded for the nation’s leaders, including “our president.” He prayed in particular for the Lord to give President Obama wisdom and to protect his family. Near the end, he said: “You call us to repent, Lord, and this day is our response.”
Watch the rest of it above.