Throughout the years, Billy Graham and Franklin Graham have prayed for incoming presidents, offering petitions for the head of state and our nation that still ring true today. Billy Graham, considered pastor to the presidents, continually pointed America back to God through his inaugural prayers. Here are five excerpts* from previous prayers you can use while lifting up the outgoing and incoming presidents.
1. For the nation: Our Father and our God, Thou hast said, “Blessed is that nation whose God is the Lord.” We recognize on this historic occasion that we are “a nation under God.” We thank Thee for this torch of faith handed to us by our forefathers. May we never let it be extinguished. Thou alone hast given us our prosperity, our freedom and our power. This faith in God is our heritage and our foundation!
Thou hast warned us in the Scriptures, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” As George Washington reminded us in his farewell address, morality and faith are the pillars of our society. We confess these pillars are being eroded in an increasingly materialistic and permissive society. The whole world is watching to see if the faith of our fathers will stand the trials and tests of the hour. Too long we have neglected Thy word and ignored Thy laws. Too long we have tried to solve our problems without reference to Thee. Too long we have tried to live by bread alone. We have sown to the wind and are now reaping a whirlwind of crime, division, and rebellion.
And now with the wages of our sins staring us in the face, we remember Thy words, “If my people who are called by my Name shall humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” —Billy Graham, 1969 inaugural prayer
While Billy Graham attended and prayed during many presidential inaugurations, he also participated in private events at the request of the elected presidents. In 1965, he preached a sermon to President Lyndon B. Johnson and invited guests during a private event on Inauguration Day. Here, Billy Graham can be seen entering the Washington DC church with wife Ruth Bell Graham, President Johnson and his family.
2. For unity: We pray, O Lord, for President-elect George W. Bush and Vice President-elect Richard B. Cheney, to whom You have entrusted leadership of this nation at this moment in history. We pray that You’ll help them bring our country together so that we may rise above partisan politics and seek the larger vision of Your will for our nation.
Use them to bring reconciliation between the races, healing to political wounds, that we may truly become one nation under God. Give our new president, and all who advise him, calmness in the face of storms, encouragement in the face of frustration, and humility in the face of success. Give them the wisdom to know and to do what is right, and the courage to say no to all that is contrary to Your statutes of holy law. --Franklin Graham, 2001 inaugural prayer
3. For the transition: And now, on this twentieth day of January, 1993, we commit to you President-elect (Bill) Clinton and Vice-President-elect (Al) Gore, who you have permitted to take leadership at this critical time in our nation’s history. Help them always to see the office to which they’ve been elected as a sacred trust from you. We pray that you will bless their wives who will share so much of the responsibility and burdens.
Make President-elect Clinton know that he is never really alone but that the eternal God can be his refuge and he can turn to you in every circumstance. Give him the wisdom you’ve promised to whose who ask and the strength that you alone can give. We thank you for his predecessor President Bush and the dedication he gave to this office. Bless him as he and Mrs. Bush continue their dedicated service to our country in other spheres.
We commit this inaugural ceremony to you and ask that the memory of this event may always remind us to pray for our leaders. I pray this in the name of the one that’s called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace. Amen. --Billy Graham, 1993 inaugural invocation
Billy Graham offers the invocation during President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993.
4. For the president-elect: And now we come to a new era in our history. In Thy sovereignty Thou hast permitted George Bush to lead us at this momentous hour of our history for the next four years. As he today places his hand upon the Bible and solemnly swears before Thee to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, give him the wisdom, integrity and courage to help this become a nation that is gentle and kind.
Protect him from physical danger, and in the lonely moments of decision grant him Thy wisdom to know what is morally right and an uncompromising courage to do it. Give him a cool head and a warm heart. Give him a compassion for those in physical, moral and spiritual need. O God, we consecrate today George Herbert Walker Bush to the presidency of these United States with the assurance that from this hour on, as he and his family move into the White House, they will have the presence and power of the One who said, “I will never leave thee or forsake thee. [Hebrews 13:5]”--Billy Graham, 1989 inaugural invocation
Billy Graham prays during the first inauguration of Richard Nixon in 1969.
5. For courage & commitment: Our Father and our God, we thank You today for the privilege of coming into Your presence on this historic and solemn occasion.
We thank You for Your gracious hand which has preserved us as a nation. We praise You for the peaceful continuity of government that this Inauguration represents.
We recall that the Bible says, “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it” (Psalm 127: 1, KJV). You also said that to whom much has been given, much shall be required.
We look gratefully to the past, and thank You that from the very foundations of America You granted our forefathers courage and wisdom, as they trusted in You. So we ask today that You would inspire us by their example; where there has been failure, forgive us; where there has been progress, confirm; where there has been success, give us humility; and teach us to follow Your instructions more closely as we enter the next century.
Give to all those to whom You have entrusted leadership today a desire to seek Your will and to do it. --Billy Graham, 1997 inaugural prayer
*Source: Wheaton College’s Billy Graham Center Archive
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