“My aim was in no way to endorse the president, his policies, or his party, but to obey God’s command to pray for our president”

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

He's right... but these days you do have to think about the optics, and you have to think about why a public official wants you to pray for him in front of the cameras. You can pray for a President any time anywhere.

Edit: Stetzer is convinced there wasn't time to handle the situation any differently. He's got a point.

... and the prayer... All I can say is Amen!

....God, we pray that he would know how much you love him—so much that you sent Jesus to die for his sins, our sins—so we pray that he would look to you. That he would trust in you, that he would lean on you. That he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, and good for righteousness, and good for equity, every good path.

Lord we pray, we pray, that you would give him all the grace he needs to govern in ways that we just saw in 1 Timothy 2 that lead to peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. God we pray for your blessing in that way upon his family. We pray that you would give them strength. We pray that you would give them clarity. Wisdom, wisdom, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Please, O God, give him wisdom and help him to lead our country alongside other leaders. We pray today for leaders in Congress. We pray for leaders in courts. We pray for leaders in national and state levels. Please, O God, help us to look to you, help us to trust in your Word, help us to seek your wisdom, and live in ways that reflect your love and your grace, your righteousness and your justice. We pray for your blessings on our president toward that end. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:

He's right... but these days you do have to think about the optics, and you have to think about why a public official wants you to pray for him in front of the cameras. You can pray for a President any time anywhere.

You've always had to worry about the optics, though.  A number of incidents in Jesus' life recorded for us in the gospels show he was much more concerned about doing what was right than worrying about the optics of the political class (the Pharisees).  He knew they would intentionally twist anything he did.

Still, I'm sympathetic to what you are saying.  We do need to understand that the servants of this world are wiser in their ways than the children of light, and since we don't have Jesus' understanding, wisdom, etc., we ought to be thinking maybe a little more about what our actions will be seen as (and what the controlling parties intend them to be seen as), even if that should not be the overriding concern.

Have we ever had a leader in this country, though, that Christians could wholeheartedly endorse without caveat?  Is there ever a time to publicly pray for our leaders in an open forum outside the church, or do so with them together on the platforms of our churches?  It's an interesting question, at least.  Not to mention that the prayer in question was certainly a public testimony of the gospel in front of the world, especially given the coverage.  I've always wondered about the exact circumstances of Paul's appearances before the Roman leaders, and about how he always addressed them with respect, rather than use every single speaking opportunity to "call them out" about their sin, though he did present the gospel.

Dave Barnhart

WallyMorris's picture

Although David Platt has some bad and dangerous theology (i.e., letting people who speak in tongues become SBC missionaries), I would have done the same thing. If the President shows up at our church service, publicly pray for him. Those who don't like that are being more political than Biblical.

Wally Morris

Charity Baptist Church

Huntington, IN

amomentofcharity.blogspot.com

GregH's picture

It is a tough thing to be used that way as Trump used that pastor and the church. It would be very tempting to tell him he is not welcome and that you are not interested in being a pawn in his political stunts. But it is hard to criticize what Platt did and said. And you have to think that someone there stood up to Trump enough to strongly suggest that he not speak because I cannot imagine that was his decision.

M. Osborne's picture

There have been occasions in my life when I get such obvious gospel opportunities, like a boss at the supermarket (high school job) asking, out of the blue, "Mike, what religion are you?" And the adrenaline kicks in because it's so obvious that God wants me to explain the gospel to someone.

If I were told that the POTUS was showing up asking for prayer...

Honestly, if you're consumed with the gospel and being the church, how can you not see it primarily as a gospel opportunity? My thought would be, "God, I'm a minister of the gospel; this is a gospel opportunity; I'm going to take it; and God, you're going to have to deal with those who want to misconstrue this as a political statement, because it's emphatically not a political statement. Here goes..."

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

josh p's picture

My friend lives in Chicago and apparently politicians randomly show up at churches and are given the the pulpit to campaign. Seems crazy to me. She told me a story about the mayor showing up at her church (he was up for re-election) with his whole entourage and expecting the pulpit. In the pastor’s opening prayer he said “I see we have the mayor here this morning. We ask that he would repent of his sins and trust in you for salvation.” No pulpit was given. Always loved that story. My pastor shared a similar story regarding Andrew Jackson. I can’t remember the pastor now but he was told to tone it down and not be offensive. He said something like, “I understand the president is here this morning and I have been told to be careful not to offend.” If Andrew Jackson does not repent he will die and go to hell.” Afterwards Jackson told him something like “If I had 100 men like you I could conquer world.” Platt was in a tough situation. It seems like he handled it pretty well.

M. Osborne's picture

"Dear Mr. President,

"We're so glad you could join us for prayer today. We need prayer, not for psychological fortitude, but because God is really there and because He is our only hope in this life and the next...." etc., etc.

"This book has been a blessing to me and I'm enclosing a copy for you to read as you have time." etc. etc.

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Jay's picture

I've kind of paid attention to this, but honestly...the Great Commission says go into all the world and preach the gospel to all nations, does it not?  And now if one of the most powerful men in the world wants to show up we shouldn't take him up on it?  This is a major purpose for being here.  Platt gave him the gospel and prayed with him.  It's not an endorsement or anything like that.  The Gospel trumps politics, and it certainly trumps Trump.

I'm a #nevertrump person, but any US President is welcome to walk into my church at anytime, especially if I have a sliver of a chance to witness to them.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Lots of good points. Just as a thought experiment, though, imagine Obama showed up at Platt's church. Should the response be the same? Different?

I've seen a lot of emphasis in various churches lately on praying for the President. I know for a fact that some of them didn't show that much interest in praying for Obama. Let's assume for a moment there are good reasons for that: what could those reasons be?

Larry's picture

Moderator

It seems to me that if we have a clear biblical philosophy about what worship in the gathered church should be, then this decision isn't really that hard. And it doesn't take much time to make it. 

M. Osborne's picture

Lots of good points. Just as a thought experiment, though, imagine Obama showed up at Platt's church. Should the response be the same? Different?

Emphatically...it should be the same response.

I attend a very 9-Marks-ish church, and the pastoral prayer can be fairly lengthy on any given Sunday. We rotate praying for 2 members (or children of members) on a Sunday, for some level of government on a Sunday, for an unreached people group, for another area church, etc. Obama has been prayed for; Trump has been prayed for; the next President will be prayed for. The early Christians were expected to pray for the Roman emperors; in 21st-century America, we have it better than the early Christians, so how much more should we be willing to obey this?

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

M. Osborne's picture

I should also mention that our church demographics are not the IFB / red-state demographics. It's Philadelphia; we have a large minority and immigrant population; it is not taken for granted that people are Republican (or Democrat). We have to pick and choose the issues to stand firm on regardless of politics (abortion, homosexuality, etc.), because probably there's a wide divergence of views on everything else (immigration, health care, taxation, minimum wage). And we have members who because of their backgrounds would be more disturbed by Trump than by Hillary Clinton (whatever their thoughts on abortion, etc.).

But all that being said...we have tried to disciple people in such a way that they are not offended when we pray gospel-based prayers over our leaders, whether it's Obama or Trump. And they get it. At least, I think I hear "amens." Smile

Michael Osborne
Philadelphia, PA

Jay's picture

Lots of good points. Just as a thought experiment, though, imagine Obama showed up at Platt's church. Should the response be the same? Different?

Yes, they should be the same.  Peter’s command to honor the Emperor (1 Peter 2:17) isn’t contingent on whether or not you actually like him or if you happen to approve of the job he is doing.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

One pastor observed on Twitter that a biblical view of worship would mean not in any way altering the service just because a President showed up.

I appreciate the spirit of that, but I don't think a biblical view of worship can carry that much freight. I believe in being well-organized, well-planned, and as unsloppy as possible.  Our God deserves no less. At the same time, the gathering of believers to worship is a family gathering, and there should be some room for spontaneity now and then. Flexibility isn't inherently at odds with a biblical view of worship.

Plus, if a church normally has a pastoral prayer as part of its Sunday worship, you're not really even changing anything very much if that prayer includes the President, in person, on a given Sunday.  ... even more so, if your pastoral prayer includes prayer for "those in authority" ... 1 Tim. 2:1-2.  Doing that in person when one of these "kings" shows up seems pretty consistent with Scripture to me.

josh p's picture

That’s an interesting point that I hadn’t considered. I just assumed this was during the normal pastoral prayer. I think, if it were me, I might tell the president that I would pray for him during normal prayer time but that I wouldn’t necessarily alter the whole service.