An Inauguration Prayer

The controversy over the choice of Rick Warren to offer prayer on Inauguration Day led me to look again at the Inauguration Day prayers in An American Prayer Book (Morehouse Publishing, 2008). Examples of the art are provided from ZeBarney Thorne Phillips, Dwight Eisenhower, and Billy Graham. Phillips’ prayer is as memorable as his name, but the others seem to me uninspired. Had they asked me, I would have provided the prayer below. I will be happy to send a free copy of An American Prayer Book to anyone who can provide a prayer which, in the opinion of the judges (me) is at least more memorable and appropriate than those in the book. Family members not eligible. Deadline: midnight of Inauguration Day.

O God of hope,
you have revealed yourself to people of faith in every age
and set before us a vision of a time
when men and women of every race and nation
will come together in peace and unity,
and you have sent your Holy Spirit into human hearts
inspiring us to work to fulfill that vision,
and to choose leaders to guide us toward that goal.
If now we seem in some ways nearer that vision,
let us remember today all those who are still suffering from disease,
uprooted by war, ground down in poverty,
and turning often to violence for lack of hope.
You have given us in this great country
the resources to provide not only for our own needs
but or the needs of many others;
Help us, then, to rededicate ourselves
to the use of the gifts you have given us
not only for our benefit,
but for the benefit of those
whose need is greater than ours;
Let there be no room among us for injustice
in the sharing of your gifts
and in the opening up of opportunity
without regard for our human divisions
of age and race and gender and nation and language;
Help us to broaden our understanding of the task before us
and give us a greater willingness to work together
to fulfill the vision:
to beat swords into plowshares
and spears into pruning hooks,
to learn war no more
but to seek peace with justice
for all people everywhere;
Guide and strengthen, Merciful God, those now called to serve
as President and Vice President,
as members of Congress and of the Courts;
give them wisdom, patience, and understanding
to seek your will and not their own,
and to find ways to work together for the common good,
that we may give thanks to you, O God,
for the vision you have given us
and for the hope with which we are able
to go forward from this day and place.


CarolineJanuary 20th, 2009 at 10:15 pm

This is just perfect, I think.

joanne wJanuary 24th, 2009 at 6:43 am

I was working last Tuesday and only watched the swearing-in and President Obama’s address live. I watched extensive re-broadcasts and commentary when I returned home that evening. Until I read your post I had not realized that I had not heard a word about Warren’s prayer! I just read it now and I see that since it was non-controversial and attempted to be inclusive, the media obviously found it unworthy of coverage or comment. Thorne Phillips’ writing versus Rick Warren’s is clearly a case of the King James version of the Bible versus NSV; each has its place, but we all have our preferences.

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