Thursday, September 07, 2006

Praying for the president

I gave the invocation before President Bush spoke today at the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum in Pooler near Savannah. He was appearing to support Max Burns, who is running for Congress in our district, the 12th congressional district of Georgia. After he spoke, the president came by to shake hands with people, and he shook hands with my wife Mary, and me. I told him that I pray for him daily, and he looked me square in the eye, leaned forward, and said, "Thanks, it's working," and then he continued shaking hands with others on down the line.
Above are pictures of me praying and the president speaking, with Max Burns in the background.


Brother Bob said...

Some people have asked what I prayed when I gave the invocation before President Bush spoke. It was not a written prayer, although I did think through what I would pray, so to the best of my memory, here is what I prayed:
"Heavenly Father, in this place [the Mighty Eighth Air Force Museum] we are reminded of the sacrifice so many made for our country, and we are reminded of the sacrifice that You made for us. You teach us in Your word to pray for all those in authority, so we pray for our president and leaders today. When King David blessed his son Solomon before giving him the throne, he wished for Solomon to have discernment, to obey the laws of Moses, and to be strong and courageous. Lord, would you give our president the courage of David, the obedient heart of Moses, and the wisdom of Solomon. Lord, we thank you for Max Burns and many others here who have served and will continue to serve our country. We realize that oftentimes they undergo heavy criticism and the burdens that they carry are heavy. We thank you that they have offered themselves for service despite these trials, and pray that you would lift them up and give them strength to do the right thing. In Jesus' Name, Amen."

Anonymous said...

Bob, I would say the prayers for the President aren't working! I was among the small band of protesters across Highway 80 from the entrance to the Mighty Eighth Airforce Museum. While there we endured numerous vulgar taunts from folks turning from 80 into the Museum, good Republicans all, I suspect.

My sign read "Is Pres. Bush Pro-Life? 45,307 Dead Iraqi Civilians. 2,657 Dead American Soldiers. 152 Executed in Texas Under Gov. Bush"

One of those executed was Terry Washington, a mentally retarded thirty-three year old with the communication skills of a seven year old.

Like you I pray for President Bush every day.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh
Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church
Port Wentworth

Brother Bob said...

Father Kavanaugh,
I saw that you were there protesting. I'm sorry that people taunted you, because I believe that you have every right to protest and that we should respect those who have other viewpoints.
When President Clinton was in office, I prayed for him daily, too.

Brian Holt said...

Father Kavanaugh, I believe it's not really up to us to decide if prayers are working. It's up to us to pray without ceasing. God hears and answers our prayers--often not in the way we expect, though. I think the most important thing is that we pray for our leaders and allow God to work in His own good time.

Colin Lamm said...

Hello Brother Bob,
Just a nosy neighbour from across the border in Canada. I am married to a wonderful American lady and our children are therefore half Canadian / half American. Hopefully you can forgive me since my true heritage is found on the little Island that lost the American War of Independence.

I have grown up being a political junkie. Lately (in the last number of years), I have become quite sceptical on the role we christians play in politics. I read the disquieting incidents that confronted Father Kavanaugh.

I wonder if when we as christians, on all sides of the political landscape, see ourselves as represented under the banner of any agenda, no matter how apparently righteous, do we end up compromising the truth of the Gospel and perhaps unjustly cause blasphemy to be brought to the person and work of our Lord? (You would think that I had some Germanic blood in me too by the length of that question.)

Brother Bob said...

The issue you raise is how much should we Christians be involved in politics, and at what point do we compromise the gospel?
The Old Testament prophets were often close to kings and political leaders, frequently praying for them, but at the same time they felt free to rebuke the kings when they disobeyed the law of God. Their ultimate allegiance was to the Lord. I believe this is a good biblical model for Christians today.

Colin Lamm said...

Please bear with me as I continue this conversation.

Is there no difference between America and ancient Israel? Israel under the kings was (supposed to be) a theocracy whereas the U.S. and Canada are democracies.

I'm not advocating a position of no involvement. I just see a more tenable model found in the roles of Mordecai, Daniel, and the latter's three friends (in foreign lands). They stood up when it went against the state to do so, but they didn't pontificate against or excoriate their opposition.

It seems to me that many politically hyphenated christians do just that.

John the Baptist in the New Testament, seen as the last OT styled prophet, in his preaching against Herod fits, in my mind, more into the Theocratic context.

Brother Bob said...

Yes, I understand that there is a difference in a democracy and a theocracy such as Israel.
Let's cut to the chase-- where are you going with your line of questions?
Did you feel that my praying for the president at the rally was a compromise of the gospel? Or were you criticial of Father Kavanaugh for speaking in opposition to the president? Or both?

Colin Lamm said...

Brother Bob,

Let me give you some well deserved context for what I'm trying to understand. Personally, if I were American in the last election I would have most likely voted for the current President. I don't typically admit to others this fact. Likewise I voted for the current 'conservative' regime here in Canada.

There are many christians in my neck of the woods who really go overboard with comments like "I think the President is the Anti-Christ."

I have no problem with people praying for the president, or our Prime-minister. In fact, I think a lot of us should simply close our opinionated mouths, bend our knees and repent of our behavior - particularly when it comes to the realm of politics. We believers in Jesus, as you correctly point out, are expected to pray for those in authority over us.Too often I think we christians are seen as being overly partisan.

I'm not taking sides between what you did at the rally for your particular potential congressman, or Father Kavanaugh. But, how would the seemingly political division between two 'christian' clergymen play out in the minds and hearts of 'the world'?

I wonder if the world we are trying to reach is repelled more by the scandal of our apparent politics, or, by the unadulterated message of the cross? I definitely do not have any absolute answer on this concern.

From what I read in your Blog, I thought you would be a good person to engage with in some of my questions. Thank you for taking the time to seriously discuss these questions with a complete stranger.

Brother Bob said...

Thank you for helping me understand where you are coming from.
I agree that the world can become repelled by "overly partisan" politics. That is why I seek to stick to issues rather than personalities in my approach to political involvement. I do not endorse candidates from the pulpit, but I speak on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, etc. when they come up in the course of preaching the Bible.
I was invited to pray at the rally by the congressional candidate, whom I respect and have known ever since he formerly served in Congress. I did not seek out the rally, but when invited I felt inclined to acceept. I freely admit that I voted for President Bush and that I voted for Max Burns and plan to vote for him in this next election. Max Burns has been invited to speak at our men's breakfast at our church next week, and has accepted. But please notice that we have also asked his opponent, the incumbent Democratic Congressman, John Barrow, to speak at our men's breakfast the following month. He has not given us a reply, but we hope he accepts. So we are not going to endorse a candidate in this race, but rather we want to give our people opportunities to be informed.
So to try to answer your question, I believe the best policy is to speak on issues from the Bible, and to encourage people to vote and be informed about the views of the candidates, but not to endorse candidates. If it appeared that I violated that policy by praying at the rally, I would point out that I was invited to pray for the president of the United States, and I accepted on the basis on 1 Timothy 2:2. If I am invited to pray for a person in office whom I did not support, I would be inclined to accept that invitation, as well.

Colin Lamm said...

Thank you for your patience in helping me grapple with this 'hot-topic'. I do very much appreciate the time and effort you put into responding to my many questions. God bless!

Jesse said...

I've enjoyed reading your dialogue with Colin. It's good to see Fr. Kavanaugh commenting also, although I would've liked to have heard more from him on this topic.
Sounds like you guys are doing great at FBC. Many blessings!

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I've been a bit out of commission. That's why it's taken this long for me to comment on this subject. :)

My jaw has hit the floor. Political candidates in your church? I fail to see how you can expect that to look anything but political. I don't mean to sound judgemental, but is that really what your church is for?

Brother Bob said...

Welcome back.
Pick your jaw up off the floor and notice the format and balance we are giving to the political candidates visiting our church. Notice they are not speaking in a worship service, they are guests at a men's breakfast in our fellowship hall. Also notice that we are inviting both the Republican and Democratic candidates. Do you think it is imappropriate to encourage Christians to be informed about both sides of issues and to vote? Daniel Webster once said that "what makes men good Christians makes them good citizens." I agree that good citizenship is a part of being a good Christian.

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I've picked my jaw up. :)

And I see that you're being very balanced. I've never known you to be a one-sided person, and so that doesn't surprise me. I wasn't commenting on your choice of guests, just that I wouldn't have thought politics would be in a church.

I personally think politics belong everywhere. If we have to live with the things these people do we should certainly be informed. I wasn't saying I thought it was a bad idea, I was just surprised that you didn't think it was a bad idea.

Oh and thanks a lot for asking how I am......mean old Georgians.... :)

Brother Bob said...

How are you doing? Have you been sick?

Bloodiest of Ladies said...

I was in a wreck awhile back. I thought Brian told you, sorry, I suppose you're not a mean old Georgian. :)

Brother Bob said...

No, I did not know you had been in a wreck. Sorry about that. I noticed you had not commented on this site in a while. I hope that you're fully recovered now. Good to hear from you.