Prayer of Repentance

This prayer burst into the public consciousness back in January of 1996, when the Rev. Joe Wright, senior pastor of the 2,500-member Central Christian Church in Wichita, was invited to deliver the opening prayer at a session of the Kansas House of Representatives. On that occasion he offered the following “Prayer of Repentance” (which was not entirely of his own crafting but rather was a version of a prayer written in 1995 by Bob Russell, who had offered it at the Kentucky Governor’s Prayer Breakfast in Frankfort):

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and seek your direction and guidance.


We know your Word says, “Woe to those who call evil good,” but that’s exactly what we’ve 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 moral pluralism.
We have worshiped 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 esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbors’ 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 it in the name of your son, the living savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Rev. Wright had been invited to serve as the Kansas House’s guest chaplain by Rep. Anthony Powell, a Wichita Republican who was also a member of Wright’s church. Accordingly, Rev. Wright read the prayer at the opening of the legislature on 23 January 1996 and then departed, unaware of the ruckus he had created until his church secretary called him on his car phone to ask him what he had done.

Rev. Wright said afterwards: “I certainly did not mean to be offensive to individuals, but I don’t apologize for the truth.” His staff stopped counting the telephone calls about the prayer that came in from every state and many foreign countries after the first 6,500 or so.

 

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