Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Rick Warren's Answers to Terry Eastland on His Invitation to Pray at the Inaugural

Terry Eastland's questions (HT: Weekly Standard)

Warren’s answers:

How hard or easy was the decision to accept the president-elect’s invitation?

I am both humbled and honored to have a tiny part of a history-making day, when our country inaugurates our first African- American president. The invitation was completely unexpected. I could name several dozen wonderful pastors, both black and white, who would do a better job.

Do you expect to look at some past inauguration prayers to see what’s been done before?

I’ve always been an avid student of American history, since a Richard Warren was one of the 41 Pilgrim signers of the Mayflower Compact. I already have a collection of many of the important prayers in U.S. history, including a binder of every inaugural prayer. Of course, I’ll reread them all again before Jan. 20th. I own Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten note confirming the need for a national chaplaincy to care [for] wounded soldiers during the Civil War and approving a pastor.

How do you think about the kind of prayer to be given at a (any) public event, given that the audiences at such events usually have various faiths represented?

It doesn’t bother me at all when an Imam prays a Muslim prayer in [a] public arena or when a Rabbi prays a Jewish prayer in public or when anyone expresses their personal faith in public. This is America. We don’t deny our differences but we are respectful of all of them. I’m a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray.

By which I mean both what is prayed for and how it is prayed?

Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements, nor political posturing. That’s the fastest way to kill a prayer. They are humble appeals to God. My hope is that all Americans will pray for the new president.


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