Several weeks ago when it was announced that Rick Warren would be giving the opening prayer at Barack Obama’s inaugeration, I asked the question, “would you pray at Obama’s inauguration?” I never answered the question myself as life got busy and I found little time for blogging. So without further ado, I give you my answer, yes, yes, yes I would absolutely give the opening prayer if invited to do so at Obama’s inauguration (yes I know this would never actually happen!).
I have read Rick Warren’s prayer–you can too at Justin Taylor’s blog. It was not the best prayer ever–I am not sure that the gospel was clearly present, but he recited the Lord’s prayer which is Christ0centric and he spoke clearly of judgment, God’s holiness, and Christ’s transforming power which are at least important elements in the gospel message. I am fully aware that some things Obama stands for are things that I as a follower of Christ am strongly against–namely his thoroughly pro-choice stance on abortion revealed in his promise to sign legislation that will make abortion more easily accessible and government funded. I am not ok with our government funding the murder of the unborn.
That said, I wouldn’t think twice about jumping at the opportunity to pray at such a historic event as that of President Obama’s inauguration. Such would have been a huge opportunity to get the gospel out to millions of people throughout the world, something I am not sure that Warren did adequately. I don’t say that to dog Warren who I respect, but simply to say that I would have loved the opportunity to be clear on the gospel in some places that Warren wasn’t. To me it would be similar to the opportunity to preach at an unbeliever’s funeral. I would probably not agree with the way that such a person lived their life, nor do would I stand for some of the things that person stands for, but I can give hope to those in attendance by preaching the gospel clearly and offering the life giving hope of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Another reason I would gladly pray at such an event is that I have also heard the prayer of another who did pray at Obama’s inauguration, the Rev. Joseph E. Lowery of Atlanta. Rev. Lowery closed his prayer with perhaps the most bizarre rhyme I have ever heard. And call me crazy, but I found Rev. Lowrey’s prayer to be rather racist. Are we not celebrating victory in the sphere of civil rights in the United States by inaugurating our first African American president? But back to my main point–where was the gospel in Rev. Lowrey’s prayer? Where was the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ over unworthy sinners like us? I would pray, if for no other reason than to present grace and truth in whatever way I could.
Here is Lowrey’s prayer, let me know what you think: