Today the United States of America is inaugurating a new President. One of the amazing things I love about my country is this smooth and peaceful transition of power. I know many are boycotting watching the inauguration or even listening to news about it. I won’t be one of those, because I find the whole event as such a powerful statement of who we are as a nation, the leaders of often opposing ideologies cordially great one another and their families to pass the baton of leadership.
There was moment that is engraved in my memory of the 2008 inauguration, when President Obama was being sworn in and President Bush was leaving office. There was a moment when the two men shook hands and embraced. It wasn’t one of those hugs that you see after a game when opponents congratulate each other. It seemed like a cross between the sincerity of passing a heavy burden and responsibility, knowing the toll it takes, and a blessing. No longer were they adversaries of different political parties, but more like brothers who share something few ever understand. At least that is how I’ll always see it.
At every church I have pastored, we have a congregational prayer time, where we receive prayer requests for specific concerns. One thing that I always include is a prayer for those in positions of authority; in government, in the church, and on our jobs. We have been praying for President Obama for the past eight years, as we have for presidents before him. We will now be praying for President Trump.
It is my belief that, as Christians, we are called to do just this. I do not see it as an option.
"I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions,
and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority;
that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour"
(I Timothy 2:1-3).
A few years back, we had a visitor at Shiloh UMC, where I am currently pastor, who approached me after service. He said that he couldn’t pray for our current president and administration. I simply told him that I didn’t think that you could be obedient to scripture and do that. He smiled, walked out of the church, and never came back. Many mistake “praying for” with “agreeing with” and that isn’t how it works.
We are called to pray for our enemies, as well as those we like or who are of like minds with us. We’re called to pray out the love that has been poured out on us. It doesn’t call on us to agree with them or to approve of immoral, unethical acts. In our praying we’re not to turn a blind eye to injustice or hate. But, we are called to walk in love and pray for them. As the man who visited the church, many will disagree, but I continue to pray for those in authority.