Although I didn’t watch the Grammy Awards last night, I did hear about host LL Cool J’s opening prayer. It was offered in response to the sudden death of singer Whitney Houston.
Saying that it was the only thing that felt right to do, here is how he prayed:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us. Today our thoughts are with her mother, her daughter and all of her loved ones. And although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit, and to have the legacy of her music to cherish and share forever. Amen.
That such a prayer was offered and so warmly welcomed on national television before such a decisively secular crowd – with nary a complaint – is reflective, I think, of something culturally significant.
The vast majority of people in this country believe in God. They also believe in prayer and take comfort in the practice of praying, especially when they are struggling to make sense of a broken world. As such, despite some rogue objections on occasion, there’s no need to shy away from this type of public expression of faith. It’s healthy and it’s helpful.
How LL Cool J prayed is just how most prayers in public settings have been traditionally offered over the years. Personally and in my church, I pray in Jesus’ name. But last night’s host prayed as one might expect one to pray before a secular crowd. He simply acknowledged God and expressed gratitude for the life of a recording artist whom millions of people have appreciated for over 20 years. In doing so, LL Cool J subtly reminded viewers that there’s a boss of the universe – and we’re not Him.