Senator Obama has been on the move lately--traveling throughout the Middle East and Europe over the last few weeks. Kind of makes me sad, actually--we have heard a lot "about" him, but not much "from" him, since he's been on a whirlwind tour of photo-ops with the world's leaders. I respect what he's doing, though, trying to shore up his foreign relations credentials ahead of the fall debates, when his lack of experience will be a sure target for Senator McCain.
What dismayed me, though, was this article, and others like it, which reported that someone intercepted Mr. Obama's prayer to God (placed in the Western Wall in Jerusalem), and printed it in a newspaper. Now, I regularly pray prayers that lots of people hear, and even sometimes print out prayers for others to use, but the prayers in the Western Wall are meant as direct intercessions to God, not as public fodder. What I pray on Sunday mornings out loud from the pulpit and what I pray privately on Monday mornings in my office are two different prayers altogether. We can be thankful that the Senator seems to have almost been mindful of the fact that his prayer might have been intercepted, because he actually kept the contents pretty genuine and general (No mention of "please help make me President in '08").
This incident, and all the hullabaloo about Mr. Obama's church in Chicago have gotten me thinking--to what extent do we want our politicians in this country to be genuinely religious? We want them to have the outward appearance of religion--to say the right words ("God bless the United States of America" at the end of every speech), but not to use challenging words of faith, or to be challenged by prophetic preaching (witness the Rev. Wright incident). We have what is called a "civil religion" in America, that is about 80% America, 10% Religion and 10% superstition (more on that breakdown another time), and Senator Obama is not the only victim of this. Though I do not see eye to eye with President Bush on almost anything, I can sympathize with him for facing persecution in some quarters when he talks about what I believe is a genuine faith in God's salvation. And, I felt sorry for John Kerry in '04, when he faced being evicted from his church's communion because of some of the positions he holds.
What we should be doing in this country is praying for our leaders--all of them, not just the ones we agree with--asking that God will give them the wisdom that they need, and that they will have the courage to do what is right for this country and for the good of all humanity.
So, let's spend less time worrying about what's in Obama's prayer, and more time worrying about what's in our own.