[See the series introduction/explanation]
I offer this truly apologetically. I've been holding spot #5 open for a particular Invitee. If you knew who the fifth person I asked really was, you'd hate me even worse. But I failed to give him enough notice, so you're stuck with me. Sorry! Put the blame on me.
(If he provides something later, I'll share it, because I know we would all profit by it. I wanted to have all of these up well before the inauguration, or before Warren's prayer might be published, so that they cannot be seen as a reaction to it.)
At least I'll spare you the customary introduction to the guest poster.
But first, please, a round of applause for the four gents who participated and shared their thoughts with us. Let's give it up for Prof. Frame, and Pastors Anyabwile, Brauns, and Johnson!
HSAT, I add three more observations before the prayer:
- I'm totally cheating in that I, unlike the other four, have read them all. But...
- ...believe me or don't, this is the prayer that began forming in my mind when I started thinking about this a month ago.
- Would I accept the invitation? I still think what I thought at that point: I would take the opportunity, if they attempted no censorship. I can only recall one opportunity for the Word that I ever turned down on principle, and that decision was reached reluctantly and painfully. Basically my stance is: give me an opportunity to get in the Word, don't try to censor me, and if I can be there, I'm there.
Oh God, our Creator, Sustainer, and Judge, You have blessed America most extraordinarily. No other nation has ever enjoyed such resources, opportunities and freedoms.
Even so, we call to mind what Your only Son, God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ, told us: "Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required" (Luke 12:48). You have given us much — and what have we done with it?
No other nation in history, since your Son walked the earth, has had such access to Your inerrant Word, the Bible; nor such liberty to preach it and teach it. Against the backdrop of world history, our freedoms are simply staggering. Yet the moral corruption in Washington is rivaled by the spiritual corruption in our pulpits, and in our pews.
Preachers twist and compromise Your truth, selling out on their calling so that they can be loved by those who hate You. People who name Your name choose to ignore Your words, and love the world, love to be stylish. Oh God, grant repentance to us who claim to know You. Inflame preachers with love for you that cannot be bridled nor tamed, love that shows in fearless and uncompromising proclamation of your Word. Inflame believers with love for Christ that cannot be overlooked nor misunderstood, love that shows in lives that reflect the character and revealed wisdom of God.
And God, we confess with shame that, though we are the richest nation on earth, we are among the cruelest when it comes to our most helpless and needy. Thousands of unborn children are killed each day, oh Lord, slain on the altar of our selfishness and lusts. If they are inconvenient or imperfect, we kill them. Our hands are bloody. We are deeply guilty, yet do not even blush. I cannot ask that You forgive us, much less that You bless us with further prosperity to squander. I ask, instead, that You grant us to feel our shame, that You grant us repentance, so that You might forgive us.
Lord, we have sinned. I have sinned. President Obama has sinned. All who hear me have sinned. We know better. Knowing Your Word is not above our pay-grade. We can offer no excuse.
But thank You that You, the God who is holy and just, and loving and merciful, sent Your only Son to give Himself a ransom-price to secure freedom and forgiveness for all who would believe in Him with repentant faith. Thank You for Jesus, born of the virgin Mary, crucified for sinners, dead, buried, and risen to life on the third day. Thank You that He is at your right hand, ever living to grant forgiveness and life to all who call on His name in faith. Thank You for that glorious promise.
And so, our God, we pray that President Obama will know that transforming faith in Jesus. We pray that he will humble himself at the cross of Christ, and know You as Savior and Lord. We pray that Your word will transform his thinking, that Your word will be his law. The king's heart is in Your hands, oh God — and so, surely, is the president's. We pray You grant him this saving grace.
America has been called a shining city on a hill. If that was ever true, the light is guttering, dark and dim now. Oh God, grant repentance to this land, that our spiritual prosperity might outstrip our material prosperity, to the glory of the living, triune God of Scripture.
We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the only name given under heaven among men by which we must be saved.
The previous rule about not dissing the guest is suspended, in this case. Have at it, within the normal rules.