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ANTHONY COOK: How to pray for the president (column)

Trump praying

President Trump shared a group prayer with faith leaders in the Oval Office in September 2017.

Last week, I wrote a column pointing out the dilemma President Trump presents for some Christian voters — how many of his policies align with our political goals, but how his behavior displays brazen moral failings on a level not seen before this administration.

Among the numerous Facebook comments on the article, a dear friend of mine confided that he’s often conflicted as a Christian about how to support flawed politicians who never fully align with our ideals and principles, noting, however, that a biblical requirement is that we pray for all of our leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

“I’d love for you to write an article suggesting how your readers could pray for the president (whoever it may be),” he wrote.

I consider prayer to be a personal conversation between a believer and God, so I wouldn’t dare suggest anything that should be recited word-for-word. But I believe there’s certainly an opportunity to outline key elements that should be included in any biblical prayer for our leaders. I emphasize that the following are only some highlights and is not to be considered exhaustive. 

Health: One of the key elements of running for president is that person’s health. Presidential candidates typically make public the results of current checkups so that we can be confident that we are selecting a leader of the free world who is physically fit and up to the challenge. We should pray for the president’s health and that he takes advantage of opportunities to exercise and eat balanced meals.

Safety: Every president, Republican or Democrat, has a political target on their back, but, unfortunately, sometimes they have an actual target on their back. Four American presidents have been assassinated, and almost all recent presidents have had a plot or an actual attempt made on their lives, including President Trump. We should pray that the president, and all of our leaders, are protected from all manner of harm or danger.

Family: As a church pastor and newspaper editor, I’m well aware of the stress and difficulties that a leader’s family members — especially wives — face on a daily basis. Every attack, every criticism, every failing (real or perceived) becomes their own. We should pray that the president’s wife and children are encouraged and supported by those around them, and that God strengthens them physically, mentally and spiritually for the journey.

Wisdom: In the Bible, when God offered King Solomon the opportunity to have anything he wanted, Solomon asked God for wisdom to lead his people (2 Chronicles 1:8-10). We should pray for wise leadership. But may it be real wisdom, not self-proclaimed wisdom that says he knows more than everyone about everything. Real wisdom never claims to know everything, but instead surrounds itself with wise people and then actually listens to them. Pray for that kind of wisdom for our president.

Counsel: In the Bible, the prophet Nathan was the spiritual advisor to King David. Nathan, however, didn’t flatter or kowtow to King David, or view being in the king’s presence as an opportunity to elevate his ministry or his personal status. Nathan advised and encouraged David by delivering the uncompromising word and direction of God, and called David to repentance when he was wrong. Pray that God sends God-fearing advisors to the White House who will go to the president in the spirit of the prophet Nathan (Proverbs 15:22).

Repentance: In the New Testament, Jesus says those who fall on The Rock will be broken, but those on whom The Rock falls will be crushed (Matthew 21:44). Pray that our president falls into brokenness and contrition for his own personal failings in a way that leads to true repentance, and that he has a true relationship with Christ.

Success: God doesn’t measure a country’s success by the economy or the unemployment rate, but by how much the nation honors him. “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12). As we enter into the New Year, let’s remember that, if you are a Christian, praying for the president is not optional. We should all pray that he embodies a commitment to godliness so we might live quiet and peaceful lives. That’s success in the eyes of God.

Anthony Cook is executive editor of Consolidated Publishing and pastor at Christian Fellowship Bible Church. 

Executive Editor Anthony Cook: 256-235-3540. On Twitter @AnthonyCook_DH.