When Pastor Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas House, everyone was expecting the usual politically correct generalities. But on January 23, 1996, what they heard instead was a stirring prayer, passionately calling our country to repentance and righteousness.
The response was immediate - with a number of legislators walking out during the prayer. In six short weeks Central Christian Church logged more than 5,000 phone calls, with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. Commentator Paul Harvey aired Pastor Joe Wright's prayer on the radio and received a larger response to this program than any other program Paul Harvey has ever aired. In addition, central Christian Church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa, and Korea. Paul Harvey did air the story and the prayer. He got such a large response that a phone number was set up to handle the calls. He's aired it a couple more times since.
Joe Wright was the pastor of Central Christian Church in Wichita and was guest chaplain that day. He prayed a prayer of repentance that was written by Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. According to an article in the Kansas City Star from January 24, 1996, his prayer did stir controversy and one member of the legislative body walked out. Others criticized the prayer. The controversy didn't end there. Later that year in the Colorado House, Republican representative Mark Paschall angered lawmakers by using Joe Wright's prayer as the invocation. Some members there also walked out in protest.
The prayer is reprinted below as an encouragement and challenge for each of us.
Heavenly Father, we come before You today to ask Your forgiveness and seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe unto them that call evil good," but that's exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values.
We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism;
We have worshipped other gods and called it multiculturalism;
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle;
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery;
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation;
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare;
We have killed our unborn and called it choice;
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable;
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem;
We have abused power and called it political savvy;
We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition;
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression;
We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; try us and see if there be some wicked way in us; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Guide and bless these men and women who have been sent here by the people of Kansas, and who have been ordained by You, to govern this great state. Grant them Your wisdom to rule and may their decisions direct us to the center of Your will. I ask in the name of Your Son, the Living Savior, Jesus Christ.
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