Monday, September 1, 2008

Pastor Hunter's All-Inclusive Prayer

On Thursday, August 28, the Rev. Joel Hunter of the Northland Church in Floria, gave the closing prayer at the Democratic National Convention. As a well-known, albeit unconventional Evangelical, Hunter's prayer certainly raised more than a few eyebrows in the Christian community. The buzz concerned the all-inclusive nature of the prayer (especially the ending), something unheard of in conservative Christian circles. As one who has been called upon to pray in public for a wide variety of civic groups over the years, it has always been my conviction that I would pray specificially in Jesus' name, or I would not pray at all. In the explanation to Luther's Small Catechism we read that "Only those who believe in Jesus Christ may pray to God and expect to be heard." Aparently Evangelical theology is changing. The definition of God is now broad enough to encompass all faiths.

Here is a transcript of the prayer as taken from the DNC itself. What do you think?

Please stand. We are all here to devote ourselves to the improvement of this country we love. In one of the best traditions of our country, would those of you who are people of faith join me in asking for God's help?

Almighty God, let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us a reverence for all life. Give us a compassion for the most vulnerable among us - the babies, the children, the poor, the sick, the enslaved, the persecuted. For all of those who have been left out of the advantaged world. Give us a zeal to clean the environment we have polluted while we create an economy where everyone who can work can have a job. Help us to honor those who defend our country by working harder and smarter for peace. Help us to counter those that incite fear and hatred by becoming people who are informed and respectful and are known for principles and projects that aim higher than our own group's benefit. Guide Barack Obama and all of our leaders to be agents of your will and recipients of your wisdom. And grant that all of us citizens will continually do our part to contribute to the common good by loving our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Now, I interrupt this prayer for a closing instruction: Because we are gathered in a country that continues to welcome people of all faiths, let us personalize this prayer by closing according to our own tradition. On the count of three, end your prayer as you would usually do. Amen! Let's go out and change the world for good!

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