Inaugural Prayers

Devotionals > Inaugural Prayers

Inaugural Prayers

February 4, 2013


The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for February 2013. Ah, wasn’t life easy when it was assumed that Billy Graham would give the inaugural prayer?! Non-political, widely respected, eminent, senior, an establishment figure who could also appeal across generations. Those dulcet Southern tones mixed with the gravitas of a man who had also prayed with everyone from the President of China, you would think, to the piano repair man next door.

Jesus’s name
Since Graham began to do fewer of these, life has not been so easy for those who try to pick inaugural ‘pray-ers’. His son, Franklin, did one marvelous prayer and then was criticised for praying in Jesus’s name, which for any right-thinking person is surely like criticising a Coca-Cola executive for drinking Coca-Cola. In whose name did they expect Franklin Graham to pray? Then, I remember, Rick Warren was criticised for being willing to do it at all, at which he wisely pointed people to 1 Timothy 2.2, where the apostle Paul tells us specifically to pray for those in authority. More recently still, this year in fact, Louie Giglio wisely backed down from his invitation because he believed that his prayer at the inauguration would be used for political capital against him and the portion of the evangelical movement he represents.
Behind all this there seems to me to lie a fundamental, basic, mistake. Praying is the archetypal non-political act. I do understand that the cameras roll and millions watch the inaugural prayer, so it would be naive in the extreme not to realise that this prayer is a public act, but not all public acts are political acts. In fact, prayer, it seems to me, if genuine (and I see no reason to impugn the motives of any of those pray-ers), is quintessentially non-political. Doesn’t Jesus tell us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us? Given that command I see no reason why a Democrat could not pray for a Republican, or vice versa (though it might not be prudent to quote the praying for your enemies text as the rationale for your being willing to pray, if one day you are asked)! So pray on… and be careful to make sure your prayers are as vigorous in private as in public, for it is those in private that are promised to be rewarded (Matthew 6.5).]]>


Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.


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