Christianity,  Politics

Rick Warren To Pray In Jesus’ Name

Rick Warren has told his congregation that he intends to pray in Jesus’ name at tomorrow’s presidential inauguration. He has asked for prayers from his church members. Here’s the story from Brandon Rogers (HT: Justin Taylor).

Warren’s prayer will be a sharp contrast to that of Gene Robinson, whose prayer was excluded from HBO’s broadcast of the inaugural festivities yesterday. Sarah Pulliam shot a video of Robinson’s prayer for Christianity Today (see below). Aaron Barnhart notes three lines from Robinson’s prayer that were in the original written version, but were not included when Robinson voiced the prayer.


  • Derek

    I’d like to also see Rick Warren pray an “aggressively” Christian prayer. After all, as even Bishop Robinson noted, this is consistent with previous inauguration prayers. I hope Rick Warren isn’t the one to break this precedent. Simply praying in Jesus’ name does not make the prayer itself great or even Biblical.
    Plus, Bishop Robinson showed a certain type of courage by praying a prayer that matches his beliefs. Should Rick Warren do any less?

    I’ll be praying for him, just as he requested.

  • Russ Ware

    This is all seems quite the tempest in the teacup to me.

    I am as disenchanted as anyone with Bishop Robinson’s comments regarding past inaugural prayers. Sadly, he seems quite the appropriate poster child for the travesty going on in the Episcopal Church in America.

    But, I actually don’t find his prayer that offensive. The agenda driven line touching on homosexuality etc, is problematic to be sure. But it still seems a pretty good prayer over-all. Even the “God of our many understandings” line seems fairly innocuous to me. Surely he IS the God of our many understandings. Right?

    Can we give any credit where it’s due… or not?

    Now we’re scrutinizing Warren and he’s commenting to his congregation on the nature of his upcoming prayer. Does anyone else find this all a little over-the-top?

  • Russ Ware

    Guys, I apologize for this… but the best way I can answer is to place before you the prayer… without the gay reference and without the “many understandings” phrase.

    Now, with what is left (the vast majority), you guys tell me what is so heinous about this prayer.

    Please, also give care to my original post. I am not in agreement with this fellow. I do not think he has any business being a priest… I’m just saying that over-all this prayer isn’t that bad. There are actually some pretty good sections.

    Here it is, with my minor aforementioned edits. I was going to bold the sections I think are particularly good, and that I think we should be saying “Amen” to… but as I read it again, there are so many, it would have just been silly. It is glaringly void of any mention of Christ… I get that. But, the supplications are insightful and challenging. I’m just wondering if a bit more charity, and affirmation would better suite our cause.

    O God, we pray that you will…

    Bless us with tears – tears for a world in which over a billion people exist on less than a dollar a day, where young women in many lands are beaten and raped for wanting an education, and thousands die daily from malnutrition, malaria, and AIDS.

    Bless this nation with anger – anger at discrimination, at home and abroad, against refugees and immigrants, women and people of color.

    Bless us with discomfort – at the easy, simplistic “answers” we’ve preferred to hear from our politicians, instead of the truth, about ourselves and our world, which we need to face if we are going to rise to the challenges of the future.

    Bless us with patience – and the knowledge that none of what ails us will be “fixed” anytime soon, and the understanding that our new president is a human being, not a messiah.

    Bless us with humility – open to understanding that our own needs as a nation must always be balanced with those of the world.

    Bless us with freedom from mere tolerance – replacing it with a genuine respect and warm embrace of our differences.

    Bless us with compassion and generosity – remembering that every religion’s God judges us by the way we care for the most vulnerable. (this is problematic, but I think the point is that Christianity is not the only belief system that demands generosity, and those who see through the eyes of those systems will be judging us as well)

    And God, we give you thanks for your child Barack, as he assumes the office of President of the United States.

    Give him wisdom beyond his years. Inspire him with Lincoln’s reconciling leadership style, President Kennedy’s ability to enlist our best efforts, and Dr. King’s dream of a nation for ALL people.

    Give him a quiet heart, for our Ship of State needs a steady, calm captain in these times.

    Give him stirring words. We will need to be inspired and motivated to make the personal and common sacrifices necessary to facing the challenges ahead.

    Make him color-blind, reminding him of his own words that under his leadership, there will be neither red nor blue states, but the United States.

    Help him remember his own oppression as a minority, drawing on that experience of discrimination, that he might seek to change the lives of those who are still its victims.

    Give him strength to find family time and privacy, and help him remember that even though he is president, a father only gets one shot at his daughters’ childhoods.

    And please, God, keep him safe. We know we ask too much of our presidents, and we’re asking FAR too much of this one. We implore you, O good and great God, to keep him safe. Hold him in the palm of your hand – that he might do the work we have called him to do, that he might find joy in this impossible calling, and that in the end, he might lead us as a nation to a place of integrity, prosperity and peace.


  • Nathan


    In light of Robinson’s comments that he found past inaugural prayers overtly Christian and that he would not repeat that, we should not understand his prayer to the One True Living God. Robinson intentionally prayed to no god or to the god of his understandings, which is suredly not the God of the bible.

    So it does not matter how “good” the statements are that follow that opening. The “speech” would have been better had no reference at all been made to a “deity” and then you could argue that the “speech” might have some merit.

    As a prayer, especially considering he is an ordained bishop in a Christian denomination, it is an abomination.

  • Darius T

    What is most glaringly obvious to me as missing in the prayer is any mention of abortion or, most importantly, that we are a fallen, undeserving people. Robinson, like most liberals (especially “Christians”), points out all the systematic “sins” or abuses, but never looks inward. To him, all sins are those outside of himself… kinda like when Shane Claiborne discusses protecting people from “street violence and police oppression.” To those on the Left, sin stems from an evil system or society foisted on innocent humanity.

  • Darius T

    Here’s to you, Mr(s). Robinson
    Jesus loves you more than you will know.
    God bless you please, Mr(s). Robinson
    Heaven holds a place for those who pray (hey hey hey)…

    Where have you gone, George W?
    A nation will soon turn its lonely eyes to you
    What’s that you say, Mr(s). Robinson
    Dubya has left and gone away…

  • Brian Krieger


    You provoked a few thoughts.

    1) What you did was to say, take out the offending ideas and language and the prayer is OK (even, as you say, particularly good). Isn’t that kind of like saying, well, if you substitute “the one true God” for Baal and Ashtaroth and the Israelite’s prayers to those gods were really OK.
    2) He called it a prayer and invoked God’s name. Doesn’t that immediately elevate what we say?
    3) While you and I “amen” righteous works (such as clothing the poor, seeking equality in human rights…..protecting the unborn……OK, that last one wasn’t mentioned, but still….), when offered to the gods of all, they are offensive. A good speech of what we can do to help humanity, yes. In the remotest consideration of prayer to God, not remotely pleasing.

    Or so is my thought, anyway.

  • Russ Ware

    Yes. I see what you guys are saying. And upon reflection, I tend to fundamentally agree.

    I guess what is burdening me is that IF this prayer were prayed to THE God in the name of THE Christ, it would be a fantastic prayer. A prayer of the type that seems all to rare from those who DO pray clearly to the one true God, in the name of Jesus.

  • Nathan

    As for Rick Warren, well he left no doubt as to whom he was praying to.

    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, oh 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 hinge-point 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, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or by 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, 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, Esa, Jesus, Jesus—who taught us to pray:

    Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be they 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.

    As others have said, I’m not sure any inaugural prayer has contained the Lord’s Prayer before. I thought it was a good way to end.

  • Russ Ware

    Warren’s prayer was fantastic. Ending with the Lord’s Prayer was a wonderful touch… even got a little historical liturgy in there… “thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.” 🙂

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