The closing words of President Obama’s commencement address at ASU last night have the ring of an ancient parting: “Godspeed on the road ahead”. It hearkens back to a time when travelers were wished a speedy (and safe) journey to their next destination with the divine protection of God. It is more cliche these days albeit an archaic one at that. I trust our nation’s top executive meant it as a pseudo-Christian parting comment, meant to appease those who would look for a more familiar “God bless you” greeting while not offending those who despise the mention of “God”. It was a safe, down-the-middle-of-the-road phrase. It falls into the same category of the now familiar “Bless you!” when one sneezes. Few dare to utter “God Bless You!” any more.
For the man who downplayed the National Day of Prayer to such an extent that it came and went with nary a mention, it is not surprising. This is the same president who was absent from any church for enough time in his presidential infancy so as to pique the curiosity of even the liberal media. He did eventually attend a church service but very little has been seen or heard about his faith-life since.
While we do not need our president to tell us to pray, nor do we need a specific day on which we should pray, it would be encouraging to see a national leader who is humble enough to acknowledge that he is NOT the greatest—that there is One greater still. Even the king ruling Nineveh in the days of Jonah repented, called his nation to prayer and fasting, and donned sack-cloths and put ashes on his body. I don’t expect President Obama to go to that extreme, but I also don’t expect him to openly and brazenly cozy up to the anti-God camp either.