Should NZ have a state religion or not? And should MPs keep the prayer? Send us your views Read your views

Key Points:

MPs are considering the future of Parliament's prayer - and a change is backed by Catholic Archbishop John Dew.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Margaret Wilson said she had sent a letter to all MPs asking if they wanted to keep the prayer and, if so, whether the wording should be changed.

One option under consideration is the removal of the words "through Jesus Christ our Lord".

The bid is opposed by the National Party but Archbishop Dew said it was "inevitable" the prayer would change.

"Obviously, the Christian prayer has been around for many years and, in the context of New Zealand today, if we are going to be inclusive I think we should look for a prayer that does include other faiths."

He said one option was to alternate prayers from different faiths.

A Christian prayer has been read at the start of each parliamentary session since 1854, when it was introduced by the first vote ever taken by the House of Representatives.

Last night, National leader John Key said his caucus saw no need to change the prayer, which "is steeped in tradition, has been there since Adam was a cowboy and there's no point in changing it".

A spokesman for Prime Minister Helen Clark said she had not yet seen the letter or addressed the issue.

Labour Party minister Winnie Laban, who is hosting the InterFaith Dialogue in Waitangi, said the wording should be changed.

However, Vision Network national director Glyn Carpenter said he would be "very concerned" if the prayer was scotched. "We want to be tolerant of others but that doesn't mean we have to take away every symbol of the Christian faith."

The prayer

Almighty God, humbly acknowledging our need for Thy guidance in all things, and laying aside all private and personal interests, we beseech Thee to grant that we may conduct the affairs of this House and of our country to the glory of Thy holy name, the maintenance of true religion and justice, the honour of the Queen, and the public welfare, peace, and tranquillity of New Zealand, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.