When I saw the media coverage of Sarah Palin’s speech in her church (shown in full here,part 1 and here part 2) had some observations and questions relevant to this blog.
It has struck me with my limited experience with Evangelical prayer that they generally pray for different things and pray in different ways.
1. Evangelical prayer is more informal, Mormon prayer seems more solemn and formal, very often using old-style english and very formal forms.
2. Praise is a much bigger theme in Evangelical prayers. Mormons generally don’t have many hymns or prayers of praise like I have seen in evangelical churches, i.e. Mormons don’t really talk a lot about how God is great and awesome and powerful. Mormons are generally thankful and
3. It seems that Palin is much more open in praying for certain things to happen in the world, i.e. pipelines, economic development, etc. Mormons are more subdued in that sort of thing, I generally feel embarrased when people pray for such “political” things (I don’t really know if most mormons are that way or not). Is this typical of evangelical prayers?
4. I think for many mormons it is an uncomfortable thing to pray for one particular person to obtain public office or that some political event to take place. Mormons and the Mormon church do tend to be more right-wing than the average person in the U.S. (not really true outside the US) and socially “conservative” across the board but politics is most often carefully kept out of public worship. At least in the case of Palin’s pastor, he seems very open about putting Palin in office. I am sure he believes his prayers had a part in getting her on the Republican ticket. Despite the claims of prophetic guidance, Mormon leaders are now extremely conservative in making any sort of political prophecy. I think there is a lot of irony here, i.e. that Mormons, in my opinion, are more uncomfortable about such bold prophecy than evangelicals, and generally more skeptical unless the prophecy is very clearly delivered as such from the head of the church.
5. I thought the older pastor’s prayer seemed much more Mormon-like, i.e. it focused on love, gospel, and left out politics.
The questions that remain are:
Are Mormons comfortable (or even excited) about having a national leader who prays like Palin? are Evangelicals?
If you are comfortable or excited about having a national leader make decisions based on prayer, does it make a difference that the leader prays in a “Mormon” or “Evangelical” (or some other) way?
Is there something Mormons can learn from evangelicals prayers and vice versa? such as: Could Mormons get closer to God by praising more and could Evangelicals get closer by focusing less on political areas and more on interpersonal issues?
Could the fact that evangelicals seem to be very bold in their prophecy on a local level, help them develop more understanding of Mormon’s belief in modern prophecy as authoritative?