16 January 2009

Inauguration Day Prayer #1: John Frame

posted by Dan Phillips

Series Introduction
I emailed this audacious request to several Biblically-faithful pastors whom I admire:
...I'm thinking ahead to Rick Warren's prayer at the inauguration — but that isn't the topic.

My request: would you send me, for publication, a draft of such a prayer you might pray, if Barack Obama had invited you to give the prayer at this particular inauguration?

Or if you would decline Obama's invitation, would you explain briefly why you would decline?

If you're too busy or don't find the idea appealing, that is of course absolutely fine.
So far, the first four respondents have answered separately. None of them has seen any of the others' submissions.

I plan to publish each response as a standalone between now and the morning of the inauguration.

The first to provide me with his response was the amazing John Frame. To most of you, Professor Frame needs no introduction (if needed, see here, here, or here). I've become a real admirer of Professor Frame's, and have benefited greatly from his lectures and writing.

My favorite Framian anecdote so far comes from Tom Chantry, whose father visited Tom when he was a student at Westminster in Escondido. One of Chantry's roommates asked his father, “Were you in the same class as John Frame?” The senior Chantry paused a moment and responded, “No one was in the same class as John Frame.”

Here is Professor Frame's gracious response to my request.

Dear Dan,

I would accept the invitation only on the condition that I would pray in the name of Jesus Christ. If Mr. Obama accepted that condition, I would have to think long and prayerfully in preparation, which I cannot do now. But my current inclination would be to say something like this:

We pray to you our creator, the mighty king of kings and lord of lords, who governs all things that come to pass and rules over all the nations. You raise up rulers and cast them down at your own pleasure, in the pursuit of your just and merciful purposes. We thank you for the freedom we have to worship you, sought by the founders of this nation, freedom you have given to us through the righteous laws of this land. So we call on you to be with us again during this new era. Be with our new president and all the leaders of this country, that they may be willing to hear the wisdom of your word and thus may image your justice, mercy, and integrity in their public life. As the one who remains constant throughout history, and yet who ordains change from each moment to the next, move our leaders to know how to maintain the foundations of our nation, while changing to meet the demands of new situations. Be our rock, when so much is changing in our lives. We pray for those families whose loved ones have died in defense of our country, and we pray for the young men and women who continue to fight our battles, that they may be victorious, and that their efforts may bring about the fruit of peace. We pray for those who have experienced terrible losses through the changes in the economy, and we pray that the leaders of this nation may seek out the wisest ways of responding. Above all, pour out on this nation your Holy Spirit, that there will be revival in our land, that the hearts of many will be moved to seek you, and that they may find that new life you offer us of love, joy, and peace.

This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ,


Dr. John Frame
Professor of Systematic Theology and Philosophy
Reformed Theological Seminary

We're all grateful to Prof. Frame for taking the time to respond.

NOTE: Special Rule for all these posts: diss me as you see fit, but nobody disses my guests.

Dan Phillips's signature


Seth McBee said...

Frame is a stud.

I also like his "condition" that he would bring to the table beforehand. It reminds me of Ravi Zacharias when he went to preach at the Mormon's annual convention, with the condition that he could preach on any subject that he desired and bring his own musician for worship.

He chose to speak on the Trinity and brought Michael Card.

Great witness of how to be a "Daniel" among the King's courts.

DJP said...

Yes, he's an amazing man.

I'm already on-record on the matter. The monks who commit this blog to memory will recall the time I took a similar opportunity.

Al said...

Well prayed and may God hear your prayer though you are not podium material for our New President...

I can't believe Dan has this kind of pull... John Frame, cool.

al sends

DJP said...

It's more a reflection on Prof. Frame's graciousness than my... anything. Except (evidently) limitless gall.

Tom Austin said...

I'd think that repentance would be a good theme for such a prayer.

DJP said...

Amen. I appreciate Frame's closing words in that vein: "Above all, pour out on this nation your Holy Spirit, that there will be revival in our land, that the hearts of many will be moved to seek you...." Amen to that.

DJP said...

Er, ah, I mean yes, yes... we're tight. We're like this.

Stefan Ewing said...

Professor Frame's prayer is very OT, in all the right ways. Good stuff.


My wife and I were away in a place where we had no Internet access for a week (by choice!). We glorified God by spending serious quality time together.

In the meantime, Dan and Frank (and not Phil, apparently?) have been glorifying God in your prolific blogging. It looks like I have lots of reading to catch up on.

Sir Brass said...

Well, dan, thanks for your evidently unlimitless gall =p.

Now we get to see the kinds of prayers that OUGHT to be spoken aloud in the Capital in just a few short days instead of some self-righteous prayer to a former alcoholic's "god of our many understandings."

Stefan Ewing said...

Oh, and Dan: Congratulations on your daughter's marriage.

(Sorry, totally off-topic, but if I posted it with your post of a few days ago, it might have got lost in the shuffle.)

Anonymous said...

He framed his answer very well.

Seriously, I really appreciate Dr. Frame and his reply. Nicely prefaced and stated.


DJP said...

The link in already on record, above, doesn't seem to work. This should.

danny2 said...

really, there should be a sermon or class session on "public prayer" for every perspective pastor (of course, most ideal would be to have a mentor walk them through it).

to pray publicly is to preach. Jesus set this example for us in John 11:41-42. it is not disingenuous to be keenly aware of both audiences when praying.

mr frame's prayer is a good example of this.

Jerry said...


I look forward to the others.

donsands said...

Good prayer, for a rough draft.

Just think how better it would be after Dr. Frame "thought long and prayerfully" of what to pray.

"Be with our new president and all the leaders of this country, that they may be willing to hear the wisdom of your word and thus may image your justice, mercy, and integrity in their public life."

If the Father hears a prayer as this, and answers, and works in our leaders to be willing to hear the truth, then Obama will repent of his ways, and so not only become a President who walks in the truth, but has his name written in the book of life. As well as other leaders who do not know Christ, who is the Truth.

Brian @ voiceofthesheep said...

What does it mean to pray in Jesus' name? Does it mean to literally say, "In Jesus' name"?

It is a good prayer, surely better than the one we will actually hear on the 20th. My hope, though, would be, after Dr. Frame gave it some thought, that he would include the gospel in his prayer if he were asked to pray at the inauguration.

One other thing I noticed is that virtually anyone who makes a claim to Jesus (JW's, Mormons, Oneness Pentecostals, etc) would have no problem at all with Frame's prayer.

I respect Frame immensely, but the prayer seems a bit too generic for my taste. FWIW...which is nothing.

DJP said...

I don't think one can know much about John Frame without knowing that his final draft would be fuller, and full of Christ. His insistence on praying in Christ's name is all about that: praying as a witness to Christ.

Seriously, put the blame on me. I asked Professor Frame, incredibly busy as he is, and he responded graciously and quickly, explicitly saying he'd give it a lot more thought before delivering the actual prayer. I asked for a draft — to be sure our busy guests didn't feel pressed to take hours to compose something Spurgeonic or Owenic — and he was kind enough to give it.

Let's not be churlish ingrates and pick such a gift apart in a Pecksniffian manner. (Not that that is your intent.)

Rachael Starke said...

So, given that the hysteria here in the Bay Area over Tuesday's events is reaching fever pitch, my mood has been growing increasingly dark. And I found myself this morning thinking and praying over how to think and how to pray in a more Godward, less hopeLESS, direction. (And then, how to speak, to my lost friends who have actually flown to D.C. and are practically preparing palm fronds to cast in front of the limo as it drives by.

And then I read this.

Praise God for men like Mr. Frame who can so readily offer up a prayer like this that instantly reoriented my thoughts and gave me real hope.

What an awesome series idea, Dan. Can't wait to read the rest.

candy said...

One of our pastors loves Frame, and considers him one of his best teachers from seminary.

Oh, that God would grant someone like Frame to offer a prayer instead of Gene Robinson, who will really be surprised someday unless he repents, or Warren, who may or may not take a stand of a sort.

Dr. Paul W. Foltz said...

I would not be caught dead praying at a pro abortion, pro gay rights liberal's inauguration as President.

DJP said...

It's funny. When you say it that way — well, anyone who followed my blog last October-November knows exactly what I think of The Obama.

But when you put it that way, my instant response is, "That's exactly where I want to be, preaching Christ — as a lone voice, if need be. So that someone does it."

Unknown said...

Very good idea on these prayers. But as we all know, easy to wax eloquent on a blog - harder to do so in real life situations.

I also appreciate Dr. Frame, but found myself agreeing with Brian about the content of his prayer as well. There was no gospel in his prayer or call for repentance to our nations leaders. Given Obama's lack of regard for the lives of unborn children, this would be a must.

Looking forward to see how others respond to your thoughtful request.

DJP said...

Well then, I still agree with my 2:25pm response to Brian, the one that ended —

"Let's not be churlish ingrates and pick such a gift apart in a Pecksniffian manner. (Not that that is your intent.)"

At this point, I think Prof. Frame has nothing he needs to prove in terms of his Christ-centeredness nor Gospel fidelity. Don't blame him for a quick response to my audacious request. Blame me.

Robert N. Landrum said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert N. Landrum said...

Professor Frame is the greatest and most gracious theologian alive today!

Leslie said...

I have a respectful question for Dr. Frame: Is it biblical for anyone to dare ask God's blessing on our nation without first pleading to our creator to have mercy on us for allowing our babies to be slaughtered silently for our convenience? Will God hear such a prayer?

Isaiah 1:15-17 When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. 16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

Our hands our full of blood, our president elect's hands are full of blood: the blood of full-term babies that languished in soiled utility closets in Christ Hospital Chicago as Mr. Obama spent his term as Illinois senator ensuring that this barbaric practice continued.

Lord, have mercy on this nation. We deserve to be destroyed for our cowardly act of mercilessly crushing humans created in your image, humans that have souls that will live for eternity. We have looked the other way and had the audacity to ask your blessing. Lord, forgive us! Lord, please, we plead with you, raise up men willing to bring justice to the fatherless as you have commmanded!

Mark Farnon (Tartanarmy) said...

Amen Lesley, enough of the frivolity.


CR said...


I don't believe I see in Frame's prayer (which remember was a real quick thing he whipped up in very short order that he said he would really need to think long and prayerfully over) of asking for God's blessing on our nation. Anyabwile said he would include a proclamation of the gospel in his prayer.

Maybe you're anticipating that someone else in the inauguration may pray for God's blessing but in 2 of the 4 responses that Dan got so far, none are asking for God's blessing on our nation. Maybe like Dan, you're thinking ahead to someone else's prayer.

donsands said...

What if the nation became Catholic, and abortion was once again illegal, would then God bless this nation. Or does the nation have to be a Protestant nation?
Or does a nation have to be simply a moral nation?

Then you have Obama claims to be a believer in Jesus, so he claims to be a Christian.
Could one pray that the Lord would bless the Church in America, so that we are fired up to preach the Gospel of grace, and for the nation's leaders to have the wisdom of the way the founding fathers set up the constitution that speaks of seperation of the government and the Church?

Just thinking out loud a bit.

Have a blessed Lord's day.

Mark Farnon (Tartanarmy) said...

"Is it biblical for anyone to dare ask God's blessing on our nation"

That's what Leslie said, and it had nothing to do with Catholics/Protestants/Calvinists/Pigmys/Homosexuals/Atheists/..or any other group of people.

Thinking out loud and answering out loud.

I sometimes think if we "ever" get the "abortion thing" as in the wholesale slaughter of babies, we might get passed the small talk.

I could be wrong though and maybe need to cut anyone and everyone slack who has even a chance of getting popular opinion educated and influenced about these issues...but then again, who am I?....A nobody.

Lets just get a good biblical prayer out their for the masses to Amen and the Christians to decide whether it has the gospel in it or not....

Meanwhile, we all get on with living our modern and spiritual lives whilst the unborn just around the corner get on with dying.

Man, come Lord Jesus, come.


Leslie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
DJP said...

You asked your question, Leslie. Don't keep repeating it.

I don't expect Prof. Frame to take the time to respond further. He did me a favor in providing the prayer at all. I believe I and CR offered sufficient response: it was a quick draft in response to my request, Frame doesn't have anything to prove to you or me, his body of work attests his stance.

I myself load a lot into his "Above all, pour out on this nation your Holy Spirit, that there will be revival in our land, that the hearts of many will be moved to seek you...."

I get that it doesn't satisfy you. Sorry. You'll have to accept not being satisfied.

donsands said...

"I sometimes think if we "ever" get the "abortion thing" as in the wholesale slaughter of babies, we might get passed the small talk."

I'm not sure what you mean?

Just listening out loud.

Mark Farnon (Tartanarmy) said...

Don't worry, I am not sure I get it either. It has something to do with praying for God's blessing on the Nation and the holocaust going on regarding abortion.

Since I am being told, (not here directly btw), that Evangelicals have been a major force for deciding elections for the last part of 25 years or so, and trying to work the political process for the overturning of Roe v Wade, unsuccessfully I might add, why don't all of the evangelicals in America get out on mass a few times a year and publicly demonstrate peacefully in Washington this issue?

A huge show of force, with signs and the whole nine yards. Loud speakers, press statements etc

Even Calvinists can do this, yes?

Just thinking out loud, again. Trying to get passed the small talk. Does that help Donsands?

Why worry about what one man may pray at an inauguration speech, when there could be hundreds of thousands of believing men praying at rallies all across the country.


donsands said...

"Does that help Donsands?

Why worry about what one man may pray at an inauguration speech"

Not really. I'm missing what you're saying. I'm not too bright really.

I'm not worried at all.

"... the ferevent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. Amd he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit."

It would be great to see a righteous man pray a righteous and Christ glorifying prayer before the nation, with the Spirit also helping him in his weakness. "For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us". Romans 8:26

Lord bless.