WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – "Our Father Who art in Heaven," is how missionary physician Kent Brantly began, using the Matthew 6 model to frame his prayer at the Feb. 5 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C.
But at times his words were more political than spiritual in nature.
President Obama caught flak from conservatives for comparing "past sins" of Christianity (Crusades, Inquisition, slavery and Jim Crow laws) with the barbarism of the Islamic state today (beheadings, crucifixion, rape of children, and burning alive a Jordanian pilot in a cage).
But during points of his prayer, Brantly was no less critical about Christians in the United States.
Reminding the crowd "we all, including our leaders, will stand before Your judgment seat, O God," he listed areas where Believers were failing, including "care for orphans and widows in their distress and to flee corruption."
But he also ventured to use anti-war language at least once.
"Forgive us for neglecting to seek peace and pursue it and finding ourselves in each new crisis more ready for war than to make peace," he offered, an apparent rebuke for Iraq and Afghanistan, "for choosing violence and war over peace and reconciliation."
He also took swipes at capitalism or political self-enrichment.
"We have not loved you with our whole heart and we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves," he said. "Forgive us for neglecting the needs of our people, for choosing corruption and greed over integrity and generosity."
Likewise, he hinted at concerns about race relations, appearing to reference recent controversies such as the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner:
-- "Forgive us for oppressing the minority, while the majority is filled with pride and self-reliance.
Other comments also pointed to his discontent about actions or decisions relating to war, race issues or political stalemate:
-- "Let us not seek revenge but reconciliation.
-- "Let us not delight in victory but in justice.
-- "Let us not give ourselves up to pride but to prayer.
"Be present, Lord, to all your children. Be present to those who are killing and to those who are being killed," Brantly continued. "Be present to the oppressed and to the oppressor. Be present to the leaders of the nations."
He wrapped up his approximate 5 minute prayer, essentially repeating previous points for emphasis.
"Subdue our selfish desires to possess and to dominate," he said. "Forbid us arrogance in victory and self-pity in defeat."
"For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever," he finished, continuing to reference the Model Prayer as he did throughout his prayer.
"In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen."
Brantly is a physician missionary with Samaritan's Purse, who survived infection by Ebola while treating patients with the virus in Liberia. He joined President Obama and NASCAR favorite Darrell Waltrip as special guests for the prayer breakfast.