Televangelist Joel Osteen prayed for Congress today, asking for God to show “your goodness and your favor to the United States of America and to those who govern it,” but he also told ABC News that he believes members of Congress should be more willing to compromise.
“Help these lawmakers to search their hearts so that they may serve with dignity and honor and through them our nation will achieve the destiny that you have set before us,” Osteen said in his prayer delivered on the House floor. “Give them wisdom as they make good decisions, courage that they will hold fast to your truth, and compassion that all should prosper from their laws.”
Osteen, the popular senior pastor at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, served as the guest chaplain in the House of Representatives today at the invitation of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas. On Thursday, he is scheduled to serve as the guest chaplain in the Senate.
“We ask that you bless this House of Representatives, and each member who serves in it,” Osteen prayed. “We receive your presence here today, Father, and we pray that these lawmakers will remain mindful of you, that they will honor you in everything that they do here.”
Afterwards, Osteen told ABC News that the experience was “very humbling and very exciting.”
“It was great,” he said. “It’s very honoring to come to the country that you love and to stand in such a historic place and be able to pray and offer a prayer of blessing.”
Asked whether he is bringing a specific message to lawmakers during his visit to Capitol Hill this week, Osteen called for more compromise in Congress and said “the more we can come together in unity the better we’d be.”
“I think God blesses unity. Sometimes we have to realize if we can’t get 100 percent of what we want, if we can get 80 percent,” he said. “It seems like when I was growing up there was more compromise, wanting to work with each other, and I think all of them – all of the lawmakers – have hearts to do what’s right and they all are passionate about it.”
After his time on the House floor, he toured the Capitol building with Rep. Lee, including a private stop in the House Chapel, where he prayed with his family and the congresswoman. Osteen also met briefly with House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. As he toured, many excited staffers, Capitol police officers and tourists recognized Osteen and reached out to shake his hand.
Asked whether he has ever considered running for public office, Osteen said that he is happy with his current profession.
“I feel called to do what I’m doing now, and I never really have [thought about running],” he said. “I just feel blessed to be doing what I’m doing and just pray for those that do enter this world [of politics].”
Osteen has meetings in Washington through Thursday, including a private meeting with House Speaker John Boehner, a private get-together with Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and another event with the congressional delegation representing Houston Wednesday evening.