Southern Baptist ERLC President Russell Moore to Christians: Pray For the Success of Donald Trump No Matter How You Voted, Proclamations of “Not My President” Are Wrong

Phan Vuong of Washington spends time in quiet prayer at the edge of the reflecting pool in Washington. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/file)
Phan Vuong of Washington spends time in quiet prayer at the edge of the reflecting pool in Washington. (Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post/file)

With the inauguration of a new president of the United States, now is a time to pray for President Trump and to remember our obligation as Christians to pray for all those who are in civil authority. The Apostle Paul charges us to offer prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings for “all people,” and includes in that list “kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:2). This very act of praying is itself a counter-cultural act.

After all, we live in a society in which politics has become a badge of tribal identity. Many see their political “side” as the force for good, and the other “side” as the total opposite. That’s why one can take poll questions on issues and get opposite opinions, from the same people polled, based on whether the issue is associated by the pollster with one president or another. Prayer can become that way.

We can pray in a way that wants absolute success for officials we like, and total defeat for those we oppose. That’s not the way Christians pray.

Consistently, no matter who is in office, we are to pray for success. That doesn’t mean we pray for all of any leader’s ideas to be realized. But it means that we pray that he or she would succeed, would carry out an agenda that leads to the flourishing of the rest of society and, particularly, so that the church may “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”

In contemporary American society, we’re supposed to want those we like to leave office as heroes and those we don’t to bumble and fail. That should never be our attitude.

As Donald Trump takes office as the 45th president of the United States, we should pray that his presidency is a great and good one. That prayer applies to all, whether someone voted for the current president or not.

Those who like the new president should pray that he governs so successfully that their hopes are realized. Those who don’t like the new president should pray that, at the end of his term if not before, they are surprised that they were wrong.

This means we should pray for many things, specifically. We should pray for physical safety. Leading a nation is a perilous thing, as we have seen throughout our country’s history. We should pray also for wisdom and discernment.

A president — or any elected official — will have many expert advisers giving counsel, and many of these experts will see things differently. We should pray that Trump would at every turn have the foresight to differentiate between all the competing options in a way that benefits the country and the rest of the world.

We should also pray that the president is able to bring about peace. This means we pray that he would lead the world toward peaceful resolutions of conduct.

We also should pray that God uses him, through the bully pulpit of the presidency, to model what it means for an often-divided nation to live in peace and civility with one another, even when we disagree. A president cannot do that alone, but we should pray that, as in other times in our history, the president is able to make a start.

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SOURCE: The Washington Post – Russell Moore is president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is author of Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel.
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