Obama prays: ‘Make me an instrument of your will’
Sacrilege. How unprincipled. Outrageous abuse. Appalling breach of privacy.
Not a bit of it.
Ms Phillips was on to Senator Obama from the outset: “Was it really likely,” she asks, “that Senator Obama would have inserted such a note in such a place, with the serried ranks of the world's media lenses pointing at him, without at the very least harbouring the teensiest suspicion that within seconds it would be removed and its contents find their way into a newspaper?”
And the contents of the note were then broadcast to the world:
Lord - protect my family and me. Forgive my sins, and help me guard against pride and despair. Give me the wisdom to do what is right and just. And make me an instrument of your will.
And she speculates that the messianic ‘Redeemer from Illinois’ had pitched a prayer not to the Almighty, but one ‘tailored for those American voters who are perhaps amongst the most suspicious of Barack Obama – evangelical Christians who would surely be moved and impressed by a display of such piety’.
But it has been revealed that ‘Obama’s note was published in Maariv and other international publications following his authorisation to make the content of the note public. Obama submitted a copy of the note to media outlets when he left his hotel in Jerusalem...’
So, while there are denials, it appears that the pious and devoted Christian Barack Obama wrote his sincere prayer and stuck it in the Western Wall with the fullest knowledge that it should be made public.
The scriptural injunction is clear: ‘But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly’ (Mt 6:6).
It is the exercising of ourselves in secret prayer which distinguishes sincere Christians from hypocrites, who go through their religious exercises merely to be seen and approved by man. Such people love to pray standing on the street corners, in full display, or have their prayers broadcast to the world simply to invigorate their campaign and ameliorate their opinion poll rating.
Well, the Lord tells the Senator that he has received his reward in full.
Religious hypocrites place a far higher value upon the applause and adulation of man than they do upon the approbation of the Lord. The outstanding mark of a hypocrite is that he is one thing in private, but quite another in public. The genuine Christian knows that God sees and hears him in secret, and cultivates communion with him in private devotion. The diligence with which we perform our private devotions is the criterion of our sincerity.
Whether this story is true or not, Cranmer does not know. But Ms Phillips draws attention to a much more serious issue, which is the undoubted disparity that exists between the way the media treats the ‘religious right’ and what is rarely termed the 'religious left’ (which does not appear to exist, notwithstanding the Socialist Bishops of the Church of England). President Bush was mocked and vilified for disclosing that he prayed, with the world’s media portraying him as a ‘religious nutter’ for ‘taking instructions’ on how he should govern and wage war. ‘Barack Obama, however, has actually asked the Almighty - in a handwritten note that he purportedly imagines will be read by the Divine eyes - to make me an instrument of your will.’
She might well ask ‘Where are the howls of outrage from the rationalist media now?’
Why is it that politicians on the religious left are respected for their sincerity, piety and humility, while those of the religious right are judged to be fanatical, fundamentalist, superficial and hypocritical?
Is it because they are right?