HOWARD — Troy Murphy rarely — if ever — writes his prayers down.
So when the lead pastor at Green Bay Community Church was asked to write out the invocation he had been invited to give at President Barack Obama’s town-hall style meeting June 11 at Green Bay Southwest High School, he didn’t quite have a strategy.
The solution was fairly simple, though. Murphy woke up early the day of the event, prayed and then wrote it down.
“I just didn’t want to make it a written-out kind of agenda,” Murphy said. “I’ve watched invocations that are more political prayer — that was not my hope at all.”
For inspiration, he looked to the prophets in the Old Testament who prayed for nations or cities and asked for God’s favor.
“A prayer like that is just talking to God,” Murphy said. “I do a lot of study for sermons, but this wasn’t like a sermon.”
About a week before Obama’s visit to the area, Murphy learned he was one of the pastors being considered for the invocation. On the Monday before the visit, his invitation was confirmed.
Murphy, the lead pastor at Green Bay Community Church for a mere 10 weeks, has taught at the church and has been an assistant chaplain for the Green Bay Packers for several years. A former Marine who served for six years in the Corps, Murphy has been a pastor since 1985.
Although he didn’t get a chance to meet the president, Murphy said giving the invocation was an honor he would do again “in a heartbeat.”
“I felt just blessed and honored to pray for our country and our president,” Murphy said. “I wasn’t nervous, but there was a lot going on before you (at the event).”
Murphy’s wife and four daughters attended the event with him.
The Rev. Murphy’s presidential invocation
I humbly come before you today to intercede for our city and our nation. We worship your name, Lord, because you are worthy to be praised. You are a sovereign God showing great mercy to our nation in its short history, and we are grateful and thankful. You are a God full of glory, and we are humbled to be in your presence this morning. We do not have enough days in our lifetime to give you enough praise that you are deserving. We thank you for the favor and blessing that you have given our nation despite our unfaithfulness. You are a Holy God, an almighty God — a God of unmatched love, and we are humbled before you this morning.
Forgive me this morning, Lord, our city, our nation for our sins. Forgive us for forgetting you. We repent this morning for being the prodigal son who has left home and forgotten who our father really is. Forgive us for our pride that we masquerade as leadership. Forgive us for our greed. Forgive us for our cultural gluttony we call progress. Forgive us for our lust and our loss of contentment. Lord, we repent of our adulterous hearts that have turned to other lovers and forgive us for our hiding behind religion when you have called us to a relationship. Forgive us for our hearts and our bitterness and hate toward one another when you have called us to love. Forgive us for looking the other way when it comes to the poor, the sick and the afflicted. You are a righteous God, and we will ask that you open the eyes of our hearts this morning to see our own sin. We repent this morning of our sin and ask that you purify us Lord our minds, and take us back home.
God you are a great and awesome God who keeps his promise with all those who love and seek you, and we pray for guidance this morning for our country and its leaders. God will you bring wisdom to our president and all those men and women in leadership in our nation. We ask that you guide our president. Give him an unsatisfiable hunger for your guidance in his life as he leads us. Will you protect him and his family. Will you also reveal yourself to the leadership of our nation. Will you come in the next few days and weeks and open the eyes of hearts and captivate them with your love. Invade their lives with your holy spirit, Lord, and bring clarity to their minds, their hearts and souls as they lead us. Father, we ask that you re-establish your presence in this land. Will you bring your spirit of unity to each of us and re-teach us how to love one another. Restore our faith in you, O God.
Lord, there is a special place in your heart that you’ve called for the fatherless, for the children, for those who are poor, and sick and oppressed. And we just pray a blessing upon them this morning. Will you be their provider. We pray for all those in our land and beyond who are hungry and thirsty. God, move in our land to continue to care for those who are less fortunate. We pray for the sick throughout our world and our country. That your hand of healing would comfort them. We pray for those who are oppressed from violence or abuse that you would protect them in special ways. We especially pray this morning for those soldiers and familieswho have given their lives in service to our country and its freedom. We pray that you would comfort those families who have lost loved ones and protect those still serving.
And last, Lord, this morning I pray for our city of Green Bay. Lord, will you teach us what it means to model what a city of love looks like. Will you unite our churches; unite us in business, in our neighborhoods. Will you unite us all, Father, to feed the poor, to help the sick. Will you make us an example to all other cities around this country and world.
Father, we pray all these things in your son’s name, Jesus Christ.