Phil Congdon, New Braunfels Bible Church, January 3, 2017
Eight years ago, I wrote an article in this space entitled How Should We Pray for Obama? At the time, many Christians were feeling uneasy about the incoming president. Indeed, some of his first acts as president – expanding funding of abortion internationally, enshrining homosexuality in the military, and setting in motion policy changes which eventually led to homosexual marriage, only served to confirm these fears. But this did not change the fact that Christians needed to pray for him. This is what I wrote:
I do not agree with many of President Obama’s policies: When he promotes activity which God condemns, I cannot support him. And yet I will pray for him. 1 Timothy 2:2 urges us to pray “for kings and all who are in authority.” This cannot mean only good leaders – since the Roman leaders in Paul’s day certainly weren’t that! So, how should we pray for Obama?
My answer to that question was threefold:
- That he will discover the truth of the gospel, that he can have eternal life by faith in Jesus Christ. Nothing is more important, for if he comes to faith in Jesus Christ, then I can also pray that the Holy Spirit will convict him of evil within our culture, and motivate him to stand against it.
- That he will promote peace in our nation and the world, so that in coming years we will have opportunities to proclaim the gospel and see people saved as a result. This is what God wants: He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4).
- That he will be frustrated in his efforts to endorse and promote ungodliness in the world. Although there may not be many, there are still some around him who will stand for moral values, and we can pray that their voice will affect his decisions.
Now it is 2017. After one of the most remarkable election nights America has ever known, Trump is the incoming president of the United States. In essence, the three things I encouraged us to pray for Obama eight years ago apply to Trump today. If he is not a Christian, we can pray he will come to believe in Jesus as his sin-bearer. If he is (as some have claimed), we can pray that he will grow in grace, and allow the Spirit to guide him in his decisions. We can pray that he will promote peace in our nation and the world. By virtually all accounts, the world is a more dangerous place in 2016 than it was in 2008, and anti-Christian hatred, violence, and marginalization has been ratcheted up both here in America and around the world. We can pray that this will not continue. And finally, we can pray that any attempts Trump makes to further ungodliness will be frustrated.
There is one more specific thing for which I will pray. In the last eight years, Obama has reversed American policy since the founding of the state of Israel in 1948 by consistently encouraging those who desire to destroy them (e.g., the treaty with Iran). On the eve of Hanukah a couple of weeks ago, he allowed what the New York Daily News termed “a lynch mob at the United Nations” to condemn Israel for building settlements in her own country. The Jews are – notwithstanding their present unbelief, God’s ‘Chosen People.’ Whoever touches Israel touches the apple of God’s eye (Zech. 2.8). We are admonished to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Ps. 122.6). Therefore, I will pray that President Trump will pursue a closer and more benevolent relationship with Israel.
Finally, it is appropriate for me to end this ‘call to prayer’ for President Trump the same way I ended my article eight years ago:
But you know what I pray for most of all? For us – that we will take this opportunity, as the world continues to sink further into the darkness of sin, to shine more brightly and clearly the pristine gospel of God’s grace. This is our Great Commission, from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, to preach the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15), and make disciples (Matthew 28:19)! And that’s something we should pray for, no matter who is president.