On Tuesday’s Inauguration day, I paid particular attention to the opening and closing prayers.  I’m interested in who will be asked to take on that task and how they will handle it.  For Obama’s inauguration Rick Warren and Joseph Lowery had the honor and difficult task.

Rick Warren is known as a popular evangelical preacher and writer (Purpose Driven Life), and Joseph Lowery is known as a civil rights activist and is a Minister in the United Methodist Church.

From my perspective Warren’s positive points were:

  • he stated firmly that there is one God
  • he prayed in the name of Jesus and made clear that this was his prayer and did not represent it as a prayer from all the people present and watching on TV
  • he gave testimony that Jesus had changed his life
  • he asked for justice and the helping of one another
  • by using the Lord’s prayer he made it clear that God’s glory and kingdom are primary

From my perspective Warren’s negative points were:

  • he could have used the opportunity to thank God for Jesus as the only source of salvation (Some will argue that wouldn’t be appropriate at the time, but the problem I have with events like this is that many people walk away with a false sense of security that they are okay with God.)
  • he went a little extra-biblical on the idea that MLK and a “great cloud of witnesses” were rejoicing in heaven (We know there is a great cloud of witnesses – Hebrews 12:1-2, and we know there is rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents – Luke 15:7, but I do not find any biblical precedent for the idea of rejoicing in heaven over a strictly political event in the world.

From my perspective Lowery’s positive points were:

  • asking for the forgiveness of our national sins
  • asking for protection for the poor that they would not be exploited
  • asking for help that we would work together

From my perspective Lowery’s negative points were:

  • he does not seem to believe in the One God presented in the Bible and expressed that there are multiple paths to doing God’s will
  • though early in the prayer he talked about unity, he ended with what many decry as racism and a step backwards.  I’m not really sure what “when yellow will be mellow” means – if someone in the know could help me with that one I would appreciate it.  I do know that Asians don’t want to be called yellow and that Indians don’t want to be called red – so in that regard the whole thing is a little insensitive – even if meant in fun. I do greatly wish that we would treat each other with no regard to ethnicity, but it seems like the devil and the sinful human flesh are going to keep dragging this one out as they have for thousands of years.  Regardless we all still have personal responsibility to think and do right.

May we be right with God through His Son Jesus Christ and may we learn to pray in a way that pleases God.

(Click on the name for the entire transcipt of each prayer:  Warren Lowery)

Also please note previous post on praying for our new president.