Three years ago, I was graciously invited to deliver the opening prayer before the Illinois General Assembly in Springfield, IL. This was my prayer:
Prayer of Convocation
Illinois General Assembly
Monday, May 20th, 2013
Dear Heavenly Father. We offer our humble gratitude for the gift of freedom as Americans, forged over 200 years of messy democracy and protected by the blood of our fighting men and women. Let us be ever mindful of the many peoples around the world who are not as free, as prosperous, as blessed as we are.
We are grateful to live in the beautiful and diverse state of Illinois. For the leaders who have risen from this hallowed chamber. For the movements birthed here on our rich soil.
We ask humbly for your blessing on our great land. We offer prayer for the leaders today who serve you, here, in this town. As you have commanded us, we pray for them. For their families while they are away. For their safety while they serve here. For their integrity and wisdom in shaping the laws that will shape our future.
We are thankful for each representative who has stepped out of his ordinary life to serve in leadership here. They have spent countless hours campaigning and now serving. They have given up precious time and resources. They have sacrificed their privacy, putting their lives and their families’ lives on public display. Care for each representative, each senator, each staffer and all of the family members in a special way.
I pray that your Spirit visits this place in a powerful way. I pray these men and women find the fortitude to lead well. Give each leader rest, refreshment, and a clear mind. We ask you to move our leaders to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before their God.
Help each lawmaker to consider your command to love our neighbor as much as we love ourselves, mindful of the dignity and worth of each human life, created in the image of God. Help them not to forget the poor, the immigrant, the marginalized, and the unborn. Help them create laws that support the institutions that make our communities flourish, that encourage and sustain healthy families, that give hope to those struggling to find their way.
We ask your forgiveness for yielding, too often, to the temptation to forget you in our national and political life. For the times we reject your gracious providence. For confusing courage with incivility. For confusing liberty with license. For substituting our own agendas for yours. For putting our own interests above those we serve. For the tendency to abdicate our responsibility to deal with the tough problems.
Lord, we ask for your grace this day as these men and women endeavor to govern the people of this great state. May they realize that their power is limited, granted to them by your gracious decree. Help them wield this power with caution and humility.
We long for the city to come whose builder and maker is God. We’re thankful for the gift of your Son, who has offered entrance into his kingdom by his sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection.
Grant each of these legislators fresh grace today.
In the name of your son, Jesus Christ, we pray, Amen.