Praying in Jesus’ Name Part Deux [Living in an Obama Nation]

Much to the delight of God-fearing Christians everywhere, and more importantly, to the delight of God himself, Rick Warren delivered a great inaugural prayer. The video is below and the transcript can be found here.

In my judgment, the three most important parts of this prayer are as follows:

1. Warren addressed it to the one God and Father, who created and owns all things for his glory, as revealed in the Scriptures.

2. Warren referred directly to the final judgment when “one day, all nations–and all people–will stand accountable before you.”

3. Warren closed with the Lord’s Prayer, filled as it is with the hallowing of the Father’s name, the coming of God’s kingdom, the provision of our Father, the deliverance from real evil, the forgiveness of real trespasses, and the acknowledgment of God’s kingdom, power, and glory forever.

Amen and Amen!

Praying in Jesus’ Name [Living in an Obama Nation]

So the word on the street is that evangelical super-pastor Rick Warren will pray in Jesus’ name tomorrow at the inauguration of Barack Obama. Evangelicals are rightly thankful that Warren has the courage to invoke Jesus during his prayer, rather than simply praying insipid sentiments to the “god of our many understandings” or whoever the latest, greatest, and vaguest god of the pomo pantheon happens to be.

But as we rejoice at the courage of one of our own, let us be clear why we are rejoicing. Obama has invoked Jesus and preached in churches, all the while endorsing the slaughter of “the least of these.” Praying in Jesus’ name and doing what Jesus says are not the same thing. After all, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not…'” (Matthew 7:22-23).

Lest I be misunderstood, I’m not questioning Rick Warren’s conversion, commitment, courage, or patriotism (hah!). In fact, I’m thrilled that he’s willing to ignore the secularist outcry and ask for God’s help in the name of his Son. I’m simply noting that we’re Christians and, as such, we must be clear on why it’s important to “pray in Jesus’ name.”

1. We pray in Jesus’ name because Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things. He made the world and governs it still (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-17)

2. We pray in Jesus’ name because Jesus, as the crucified and risen Messiah, is Lord of heaven and earth. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” All authority. Not some authority. All authority. And as such, all human beings, including presidents, vice-presidents, Supreme Court justices, congressman, and all the huddled masses yearning to breathe the air of Obama, are required to bow the knee and gladly acknowledge that Christ is King.

3. We pray in Jesus’ name because Jesus is the great high priest who intercedes for us with the Father (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 4:14-16) .

4. We pray in Jesus’ name because Jesus is the only one who can actually answer prayer. Bishop Gene’s “god of our many understandings” may be great on some kind of leftist Hallmark card, but when push comes to shove and we want to actually get something done for the good of the people, I want King Jesus acting on my behalf. He crushed the dragon, disarmed the rulers and authorities, and will one day return with his hair on fire and a sword coming out of his mouth. Our God conquered death; you think an economic crisis can stop him?

And reasons could be multiplied. But as Christians, it is crucial that we are clear that when we pray in Jesus’ name, we are not merely adding Jesus to the panoply of gods in the room. This ain’t Hinduism or ancient Greece where our attitude is “praying to one more god certainly can’t hurt.” Jesus runs this place. America (along with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Germany, Bangladesh, Japan, and all the rest) belongs to him.

My eager hope (and prayer!) is that tomorrow, with the entire nation and indeed the world watching, that Rick Warren lifts up a heartfelt, kingdom-oriented prayer to the Triune God of Scripture in the name of Jesus Christ for the good of this nation and the rest of the world.