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A stirring prayer

This is a Prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. It seems Prayer still upsets some people. When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, Everyone was expecting the usual generalities, But this is what they heard:

'Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and call it lottery. We have rewarded laziness and call it welfare. We have killed our unborn and call it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglect to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from Every sin and set us free. Amen!'

from Phyllis Kwan's Xanga


If I am one of the legislators, I'd have joined the walk out in protest, not because I didn't agree with what he said (which is not to say I was agreeing either), but because of how the "prayer" was said within the specific context. This is not a prayer; this is a sermon. And worse, he was preaching to the converted. Every single topic he raised deserved much discussion (that's what they were doing in the Senate), and were issues that the American society has been struggling with for decades. Many people have given up their entire life in human history to try to find answers for these issues, but here you have this guy, "asking for God's forgiveness" on my behalf, and to forgive what?! What specifically was he talking about anyway?? E.g. Welfare, what welfare was he talking about? And who was he calling lazy for getting such unspecified welfare? This is a "prayer" to divide and irritate, and does absolutely nothing constructive to any of the issue raised or to heal any wound.

How do this prayer compare to the prayer of Nehemiah in Nehemiah 1:5-11?

Three main differences: Intent, Content and Context.

I think Mr. Wright's intent was to preach, not to beseech. I hate to be cynical, but I really wish to hear his tone of voice when he recited this prayer. Somehow the fact that some legislators were walking out must imply how his "message" was conveyed at that moment.

After all, he was a minister, & he was in the Senate at the particular moment to prayer for the nation. I don't think people should find it surprising that a prayer might involve a confession of sins (certainly not in America). So why all of a sudden people are provoked to leave the building in protest?

Because they disagree with what he said? Could be. But don't people talk about issues in the Senate because they disagree? Wasn't it a bit over-reacting, even childish, for these seasonal politicians to walk out for simply hearing something that they disagree with? Weren't they used to argue over disagreements in the Senate? Or could it be that they felt Mr. Wright was simply taking a cheap shot at those who might disagree with what he said? The way he made very pointed arguments in his prayer is very different from Nehemiah's prayer.

Honestly, I don't think it takes too much guts to recite this prayer. I will go to the middle of Burrard bridge and recite it now, and it still won't make a difference to this broken world. I'd rather people spend their time working on the issues, despite the differences we might have, instead of forwarding in emails something that preaches only to the converted.

I would say that we do not know enough of the situation to comment on the intent of his prayer. Criticism that is based on speculation is probably unfair.

Afterall, if I am invited to pray at the Parliament, what would I pray about? Should I pray something that is not harmful and is politically correct on all fronts, or pray authentically? Of course, skill is another big issue here.

I tend to believe that this prayer is an honest one, seeking forgiveness from the Lord on behalf of all citizens. The pronoun "we" that he used shows his identification with the people, naming himself part of the sinful group.

Post a Comment
  • 正如林一峰話齋,閱讀,也是一種 state of mind。
  • 所以不限文字,還有聲音影像一切雜崩能東西,都在涉獵反思消化乾坤大挪移之列。
  • 看重的只有一個字:Insight


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