Friday, February 09, 2007

Offering Prayer at the Hawaii State Capitol

Marilyn Lee, my local Hawaii State Representative to the Hawaii legislature called a few weeks ago to ask if I would be willing to open today's session of the House of Representatives with an invocation. I have done this at least twice before for the House and twice for the State Senate. My schedule was clear and so I said, "Yes."

I arrived a little early and was greeted by Anne, Marilyn's office manager, who gave me a ti-leaf/kukui nut lei. After being escorted onto the House floor I was introduced by House Speaker Calvin Sey.

After a few words of greeting I then offered the following prayer (Note that the Hawaii State Motto is "Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono" a quotation taken from King Kamehameha III which translates as, "The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness" and, yes, the King was a Christian):
Almighty God, it has been truly said that “the life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” We who are gathered here today are fortunate to live in a land that no doubt holds a favored place in your creation. We are blessed but the “life of the land” is suffering from hearts that have grown cold and minds that have become distracted by the lure of power, the temptation of privilege and the preoccupation with money that accompanies access to the vast wealth of a state treasury

By your Holy Spirit, enter this place and restore your righteousness to those who seek to act wisely and well on behalf of the people of Hawaii. Open their ears to the cries of the homeless; open their noses to the reek of pollution that spills into our coastal waters; open their eyes to the sprawl and congestion of our freeways and open spaces; open their hands to touch the hands of the children the elderly, the infirm, the abused, the vulnerable and the disabled who are reaching out to them in hope this day.

Bring these servants to their knees in a common humility as they respond to the needs of a land in need of your righteousness. Save them from the temptation to think more highly of themselves than they ought to think.

Free them from any inclination to serve their own needs and, instead, encourage them to put the needs of others above themselves.

And place in them the wisdom to do only what is necessary for them to accomplish and not anything more or less.

In this alone, there is righteousness.

Bless every good and useful bill that passes through this chamber. And doom the rest. For, in the end, you are the judge of all things.

I give thanks to you for these who serve on my behalf. May this be a good day . . . for each of them . . . and for the people of Hawaii.

I ask this prayer in Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Earlier I had informally spoken with one of the greeting staff at the Hawaii Senate Chamber on the other side of the Capitol building. This man, who was also a Christian, shared with me the prayer he would ask if he were to be asked to give the invocation. He then put his hand on my shoulder and prayed for me, asking that the Lord would use my words to bring unity in common purpose to the legislators.

James 5:16 says that, "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." I trust that this was, in some small way, true for me today.