Yes, They Really Prayed For That

jim-halpert-john-krasinski-the-office-Favim_com-173662By now the Congressional Prayer offered by URCNA minister Brian Lee has been discussed at Christian in America, Old Life, and by Pastor Lee himself. That’s plenty. But what about other Congressional prayers? The discussion surrounding Pastor Lee is whether he should have prayed, not the content of his prayer. But if you spend a little time clicking through the Congressional prayer archives, you might find yourself saying “wow, they really prayed for that.”

First, to pick some low-hanging fruit, there have been at least two prayers to a god associated with Hinduism:

We meditate on the transcendental Glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the Earth, inside the life of the sky, and inside the soul of the Heaven. May He stimulate and illuminate our minds. – Rev. Rajan Zed, 7/12/2007

You are Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Omniscient. You are in everything and nothing is beyond you. You are our Mother and Father and we are all your children. Whatever you do is for our good. You are the ocean of mercy and you forgive our errors. You are our teacher and you guide us onto righteousness. Rev Venkatachalapathi Samuldrala, 09/14/2000

If you’ve been in small-group prayer you’ve heard prayer-that’s-really-gossip, meaning juicy news that is leaked while heads are bowed. That’s annoying. But more annoying is prayer that isn’t speech to God at all but, rather, a lecture to the audience:

Congress opens another day of work with a moment of prayer, Lord. In doing so, it sets an example for the people of this Nation whose government is of the people. Only in and through reflection and prayer will Your people grow in virtue. To retain its strength and moral integrity, this Republic needs reflective and virtuous people. So we pray. Chaplain Daniel P. Coughlin, 05/13/2010

Prayer helps us, whether we are leaders or just ordinary Americans, to live our lives with greater integrity and meet our daily responsibilities. Sometimes we are more conscious of our common needs. It is then prayer helps us identify with one another, feel compassion toward others in need and pray for them. We all desire peace of heart, health, and wisdom, as well as prudence, to make the right decisions needed each day whether we are in public service or work in the private sector. In all cases, through prayer, Lord, You help us to see ourselves more honestly and suspend judgment of others so we can work together and more freely give You the glory. Chaplain Daniel P. Coughlin, 06/15/2009

Simplicity is good in prayer. A little bit of eloquence may be fine, but sometimes you ask “what did we just pray?” Here are some examples of obscure eloquence:

The sun grows dim and the daylight is measured. In the darkness, phantoms loom. The eye cannot discern as the distance fades. Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, 12/10/2008

You have a dream for Your globe that surpasses our wildest imaginations. Rev. Alisa Lasater Wailoo, 03/19/2013

You say to us, “Look around and rejoice as new life bursts forth.”. . .this is our hope and prayer as we accept our call to serve as restorers of new life… Sister Jacquelyn Gusdane, 05/09/2013

Who would expect a Muslim to paraphrase the serenity prayer then end with eloquent humility? It happens in Congress.

Make these women and men, peacemakers, healers and bridge builders, so urgently needed in our wounded and broken times. Give them the strength that they need to keep what needs to be kept. Give them the courage that they need to change what needs to be changed. Give them the wisdom they need to distinguish the one from the other.

Oh God
If we forget You.
Do not forget us. Imam Abdullah Antepli, 03/03/2010

Just in case it hasn’t been clearly implied by the practice of rotating religions, somebody has directly prayed it: there are many roads to one God.

Eternal God, we children of humanity pray to You by many names, but in our hearts we all know You as One. Your unity creates the common bond between us and is our common bond with You. And though Your absolute truth eludes us, nonetheless we strive to be more like You and to carry out Your will for humanity: that we live together in peace. Rabbi Robert Silvers, 04/17/2013

Political agendas, anyone?

Open our eyes to the needs of others, make us sensitive to the issues of poverty, racial, sexual, and age discrimination, war and peace, pollution and our environment. Chaplain Cherita Potter, 03/04/2009

We’re all Christians, right?

…we your people call to mind the scriptures which remind us, saying, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” You are our God and we are your people, the sheep of your pasture. Lead us this day, gentle Shepherd, in the paths of righteousness for your name’s sake. Rev. Dr. Vaughn Bake

We love and adore You. Thank You for hearing and answering our prayers and petitions. Thank You for Your grace and mercy which strengthens us for daily service. We expect goodness to follow us this day as we honor You in our living. Minister Yolanda Adams 04/18/2013

We’ll conclude with some comedy.

Give them wisdom to know the difference between loud, hollow requests and opportunities to positively impact an entire nation… . . Rev. Dr. Curt Dodd, 04/13/2005

…these are not people of sheer fabric. . . . May their actions and decisions of today not become future apologies. Rev. Wes Davis, 02/07/2008

That’s two prayers in a row to which we can all say “amen!”

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