Eugene Cho

how NOT to pray for the presidential elections

Yes, it is true that I have been to Iowa for “ministry.”  Several years ago, I had the great privilege of officiating the spectacular Anderson/Eisenlohr wedding. 

So, yes, I’ve been to Iowa but I want to reassure you that I was NOT the pastor who delivered this “invocation” couple days ago at a McCain rally in Iowa.  This post does not serve to be pro or anti McCain.  It simply serves how NOT to pray for a presidential election.

That’s my opinion.  What do you think?  And what are “the variety of reasons?”  I’m thankful that we have two solid candidates with different views but nevertheless, two solid candidates.  But geez, I can’t wait for November 5 to come around.

Sometimes the most interesting stuff happens before John McCain even arrives. At a McCain rally today in Davenport, a pastor delivered an odd invocation.

There are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,” said Arnold Conrad, former pastor of Grave Evangelical Free Church. “And Lord, I pray that you would guard your own reputation because they’re going to think that their god is bigger than you if that happens. So I pray that you will step forward and honor your own name in all that happens between now and Election Day.”

That might strike some as provocative given persistent, false rumors that Democrat Barack Obama is a Muslim. Sen. Obama is Christian.

“While we understand the important role that faith plays in informing the votes of Iowans, questions about the religious background of the candidates only serve to distract from the real questions in this race about Barack Obama’s judgment, policies and readiness to lead as commander in chief,” said McCain spokeswoman Wendy Riemann.

source:  Wall Street Journal

Update:  I imbedded the video after a commenter shared the link.  You know, after, seeing the prayer in its entirety [on video], I feel a little better. It’s good to know that it’s not some loose mouthed, thoughtless, and vitriolic pastor. I actually thought the prayer was sincere and good…w/ the exception of the quote in the Wall Street Journal.

“There are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,”

Filed under: politics, religion, , ,

14 Responses

  1. jas dye says:

    just to clarify: that’s NOT how to pray for the presidential race?

    shoot, there goes my invocation for nader…

  2. delia says:

    Relieved to hear you say this. I was very concerned when I heard/saw this prayer on video last night. I don’t think God is too worried about his reputation being on the line….He is God after all.

  3. delia says:

    BTW, in case anyone missed it, here it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5g0d3_KE5js

  4. eugenecho says:

    thanks delia. i’ll embed the video on the post.

  5. Chevas says:

    I think the Pastor is trying to pray like Moses. Moses pleaded with God asking Him to consider His own reputation. Moses “reasoned” with God, I believe not that He could convince God, but that Moses was intimate with God and had confidence to ask fervently in this manner.

    I think it’s fine to have strong convictions and even “reason” with God similarly, but the difference is that Moses was backing up his “reasoning” with a direct promise from God. It’s like Moses was saying “God I remember you saying XYZ and I still believe it”. So the reality is that God’s reputation rests on His own Word, not an election. I believe this Pastor is getting carried away.

  6. eugenecho says:

    You know, after, seeing the prayer in its entirety, I feel a little better. It’s good to know that it’s not some loose cannon pastor. I thought the prayer was good…w/ the exception of the quote in the Wall Street Journal.

    “There are millions of people around this world praying to their god — whether it’s Hindu, Buddha, Allah — that his [McCain’s] opponent wins, for a variety of reasons,”

    But then again, I’m sure there are many people praying to God for with their biases, prejudices, slants, and perceived convictions.

  7. Eddie says:

    What are we criticizing? The mix of church and state? He’s a pastor and a citizen simply following his convictions. What’s wrong with that?

  8. delia says:

    I agree with you Pastor Eugene about this Pastor not appearing to be a loose cannon. I was concerned with only the quoted phrase as well (and also the hint that Obama only has people who pray to Buddha, Allah and Hindu (?) for his win). I think that message was divisive and showed a lack of understanding for who Obama’s supporters are vs. McCain’s. I am somewhat guilty myself though as I find myself holding myself back from asking God for an Obama win. Although I pray and ask that God deliver us the candidate that He wants so His will can be done, I know that deep in my heart (which God can see) I am wishing and hoping for an Obama win.

  9. g says:

    ^i agree with delia.

    So is the pastor implying that “real” Christians won’t be praying for Senator Obama to win the election?

    Also the quote “people who pray to Buddha, Allah, Hindu” sounds incredibly ignorant because in Hinduism, there is NO GOD NAMED HINDU. The word “Hindu” comes from Old Persian and was meant as a reference to the people who lived beyond the Indus River. It has also been historically used to describe anybody who is South Asian / Indian, though its modern usage is to describe anybody who believes in Hinduism.

    Saying “people who pray to Buddha, Allah, Hindu” is the equivalent of saying “people who pray to Christian” or “people who pray to Irish”. Sounds ridiculous.O_o

  10. Tom says:

    I guess I don’t feel any better after watching the video.

    It appears to be mostly a mixture of ignorance and political arrogance masquerading as pastoral guidance. Others here have already pointed out both the ignorance and the arrogance. Nothing to add.

    @ Eddie. Some of us are definitely criticizing the mix of church and state, but maybe more to the point, we’re criticizing the easy way many of us Christians identify our own political views with God’s will and ‘honor.’ The life giving kind of protestants who founded this country and their remarkable secular deist spin offs had just about had it with thousands of years of theocracies. “Just Say No” probably sums up their thinking and gut emotional reactions. I guess–at least in this way–I’m an original constructionist :^)

    How do we get back to that kind of ‘past golden age?’ I use the phrase ‘past golden age’ in an attempt to be inclusive.

    Bear with me in this thought experiment. In a different and parallel universe, this pastor could have really been concerned for God’s honor. In that universe he would have been praying at an American political rally too. But this time at an Obama thing. In his prayer he challenges the idea that political candidates and parties directly represent God’s honor or agenda–and thus rejects the kind of right wing and Republican manipulation of faith and religion that we’ve seen over the past couple of decades–and verbally throws himself and Obama on God’s mercy and asks for God to give guidance and direction at an especially difficult time.

    That’s my kind of public faith.

  11. Jael says:

    I agree with you, it’s a weird prayer. A little weak…..I am curious as to why you think Obama is a Christian. From listening to him and reading his book, I would say he has not made a firm decision for Christ.

  12. Rick says:

    I am not real impressed with it, but I don’t think the charge of “mostly a mixture of ignorance and political arrogance masquerading as pastoral guidance” holds water. 65 to 75% of it involves seeking to honor God and asking God’s blessing on those who speak and those who listen. At 0:55 it goes into the portion initially referenced, which is odd. The thing that I notice is that the only people who appear to be praying for the defeat of McCain, in the opinion of the one praying, are people who pray to Gods other than the God of the Old and New Testament. What about Christians who pray for an Obama victory.

    It feels out of place to me at a political rally. But then, this has been an election cycle in which we’ve heard some pretty over-the-top things coming out of the mouths of other ordained clergy too. This is pretty minimal in comparison.

  13. Steve says:

    It still puzzles me how much religion is mixed with politics in the US. In Europe they’re much more separated. Seems to me that no end of the political spectrum has the monopoly on the “correct” christian morales (any more that churches have always *perfectly* figured that either…). To infer that God is backing one candidate seems naive. Is this as confusing to those of you who were raised in the US, or is it just part of the context?

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As I soaked in this breathtaking sunrise this morning above the clouds, I felt compelled to pray for so my places in America and around the world that are experiencing such pain, heartache, injustice, and violence. At times, it feels so overwhelming but in prayer, I was reminded of these words from John 16:33. As we keep striving, working, hoping, preaching, loving, truthtelling, reconciling, repenting, forgiving, dismantling, peacemaking, Kingdom building...may we fix our eyes on Christ: “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33 Grateful for a very full weekend of ministry and preaching in Toronto, Canada (GTA). Such a privilege to partner with @worldvisioncan @wvcollective to advocate for the most vulnerable around the world. God is so gracious. A true honor to meet and encourage local pastors, lecture at Tyndale University & Seminary (photo), and preach at Richmond Hills Community Church, Compass Point Bible Church, and New City Church. Thank you, Lord, that you use broken and imperfect people like me to speak of Your love. Today, Minhee and I dropped off our eldest child at her college. We have been thinking and praying about this day for many years. On some days, we hoped it would never come. On other days, we couldn't wait for it to come. On some days, we prayed for time to stop and other days, we prayed with anticipation. 
After an entire summer of laughing it off, it hit us...hard...this week. Seeing all of her stuff laid out on the basement floor was the catalyst to a load of emotions.

After unloading the car and taking her stuff to her new home for this year and mindful that she might never live with us again; helping sort out her stuff, saying hello to her roommates...I wasn't sure what to do or say.

A flood of thoughts rushed my mind.

Is she ready?
Have we done enough?
Have we taught her enough? 
What if this? What if that?

And so we shared what we have shared with her the moment she began to understand words: "Remember who you are. Remember WHO you belong to. Remember what you're about. God loves you so much. Please hold God's Word and His promises close and dear to your heart. We love you so much and we are so proud of you." And with that, we said goodbye. Even if she may not be thousands of miles away, this is a new chapter for her and even for us. I kept it composed. Her roommate was staring at me. I didn't want to be that father. I have street cred to uphold. Another final hug. 
And I came home.
And I wept.
Forget my street cred.
I miss her. I love her.
She will always be my little baby.

I'm no parenting guru. I just laughed as I wrote that line. No, I'm stumbling and bumbling along but I'd love to share an ephiphany I learned not that long ago. Coming to this realization was incredibly painful but simultaneously, liberating. To be honest, it was the ultimate game-changer in my understanding as a parent seeking after the heart of God.

While there are many methods, tools, philosophies, and biblical principles to parenting, there is – in my opinion – only one purpose or destination.

Our purpose as parents is to eventually…release them. Send forth. For His glory. Met a friend and fellow pastor who I haven't seen in over 20 years. In him, I saw a glimpse of my future. While only 10 years older, his kids are married and he's now a grandfather of 3. His love for his wife and family were so evident and his passion for the Gospel has not wavered. It was so good to see someone a bit older still passionately serving the Lord with such joy and faithfulness. Lord, help me to keep running the race for your Glory. Happy wife.
Happy life. - Eugenius 3:16

I still remember that time, many years ago, when Minhee was pregnant with our first child. She had left her family and friends in Korea just two years before. Her morning sickness was horrible and when she finally had an appetite, she craved her favorite Korean food from certain restaurants in her neighborhood in Seoul, Korea. I had no way of getting that food from those restaurants so I actually said, "How about a Whopper? Big Mac?" Sorry honey. Eat away. You deserve it. I don't care if it sounds mushy but sunsets are one of my love languages. Seoul, Korea was amazing but WOW...what a breathtaking welcome back sunset by Seattle. Not ready to let go of summer.

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