Rick Warren's Invocation – Allusions to Allah, little to Christ

There was a frenzy over Gene Robinson’s exclusion of anything relating to Christianity during his prayer, so I am waiting to see what happens with Rick’s. Let me say, I do not like the idea of invocations for political reasons, as in democracies it is democratic to refer to all, and the last time I checked, God was not democratic.

Let us pray.

Almighty God, our father, everything we see and everything we can’t see exists because of you alone. It all comes from you, it all belongs to you. It all exists for your glory. History is your story.

The Scripture tells us Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is our God; the Lord is one. And you are the compassionate and merciful one (Allusion to Allah). And you are loving to everyone you have made.

Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States.

We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership.

And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.

Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. Bless and protect him, his family, Vice President Biden, the Cabinet, and every one of our freely elected leaders.

Help us, oh God, to remember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.

When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.

And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ.

Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all.

May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet. And may we never forget that one day all nations and all people will stand accountable before you.

We now commit our new president and his wife, Michelle, and his daughters, Malia and Sasha, into your loving care.

I humbly ask this in the name of the one who changed my life, Yeshua, Isa, Jesus, Jesus (hay-SOOS), who taught us to pray, Our Father who art in heaven hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.


My wife is of the opinion that I could have given a better one – and I humbly can say that I have.

Joel L. Watts
Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

16 thoughts on “Rick Warren's Invocation – Allusions to Allah, little to Christ

  1. I am so sure you could give a better one. The pressure was definitely on Pastor Warren. Doesn’t the bible say God is compassionate and merciful? Are we nitpicking because we don’t like Pastor Warren, even just a little bit? He goes against my grain a lot, not sure what he is in it for; but I do think he did pretty good after all the contraversy that came before it. Did I spell that right?

    Anyway, it was good day, good prayers, good music. Loved the classical piece. Great poem, though it sounded more prose than poem but great anyway. Great blooper moment on the oath of office. Great speech. Great send off for President Bush, even though President Obama did sneak a few low blow referrals to the outgoing President in his speech which I was not to impressed with. Anyhow, God is on the Throne, Jesus is Lord and the Holy Spirit is the most wonderful teacher and our President is going to need all of them.

    In 4 years, I will send a request that they call you.

  2. Oh yeah, as far as the little reference to Jesus, I agree. He should have been bigger and given more time, but hey, I guess Rickie still needs more boldness.

  3. I think Pastor Warren did a wonderful job. I held my breath until the end and was happy to hear him use the name of Jesus. Many would have tried to skate by any mention of Jesus at all and offer up some “generic” prayer.

    Take Care!

  4. And we know today that Dr. King and a great cloud of witnesses are shouting in Heaven.
    I really don’t think they would be shouting for a man down here on good ole Earth.. only praising Jesus and God… He musta read it off of paper, I didn’t see it, prayer is supposed to be from the heart,and not in front of a bunch of people, from You to God,that is what I think….Do you think God listened to his prayer?

  5. You know, when I’m praying, I really don’t know how often I call Jesus by name. He knows who I’m talking to.

    To 404momi’s point … So? He said the name of Jesus. What does that really mean?

    To be honest, I would just as soon be done with public invocations. How many of the people present, in front of the podium or behind it, were really believers?

    What good does it do to pretend that the event was honoring God? It was a secular, civic ceremony.

    It’s much like having “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance or “In God we Trust” as a national motto.

    Most people don’t really see it that way. We’re not saving people by stamping “In God we Trust” on our money, we’re just perpetuating a fiction.

  6. Thanks, Tammy – I am sure that they will call. :)

    I was discussing the same issue with someone recently. God is compassionate and merciful in sending His Son, but that seemed to me a clear outreach to the Allah of Islam – not sure how I like the idea of applying names and titles of other gods to our God. But I could be nitpicking.

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