Ed Stetzer on David Platt, Prayer for the President, and Polarization of American Christians

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This past weekend, President Trump dropped by McLean Bible Church and was prayed for by Pastor David Platt. You can see the video here.

In years past, this would probably have been seen by many as an admirable practice—a president stopping by for prayer. However, as Emma Green explained in the Atlantic, “Donald Trump’s controversial stop at a Virginia mega-church after a mass shooting showed how even normal Christian behavior has been scrutinized during this administration.”

Yet, this is a different time, and (as most would agree) President Trump is a different kind of president. Four things come to my mind when we think about this situation.

First, the criticism of David Platt was often not fair.

I was frustrated at the arm-chair quarterbacking I saw online, with some saying that he should prophetically have rebuked the president, others saying he should have denied the request, and still others wishing that he’d been more affirming of the president.

I tweeted:

Simply put, David Platt made a fast decision when the president came by. To condemn him for that is simply not appropriate. He basically had two choices—either honor the request or not.

Platt could have chosen to decline the visit. This would have inevitably led to attacks from Trump supporters, a public outcry over a pastor refusing to pray for the president, and questioning of his personal position on the president.

Instead, he chose the second option and, in his eyes, sought to model what he saw in Scripture about praying for those in authority.

Yes, he could have prayed behind the scenes. Yes, he could have refused to have the president on stage. To some, he should have thought of all of those options in the few minutes he had while the president of the United States was asking for something else.

But let’s give David Platt the benefit of the doubt. He’s earned it. He did what he thought was right in that moment.

There are no parameters when it comes to who we will pray for, and we are specifically commanded to pray for our leaders. Jesus commanded us all to pray for even our enemies. We can debate if that prayer should have been on the stage, but perhaps we can agree that we pray when asked to pray.

Either way, be glad you don’t have to consider a global news-making decision in a few minutes between services—and have a little charity for those who do.

Second, David’s prayer was gospel rich and God honoring.

Yes, I know that some people think Platt should have prayed some sort of prophetic rebuke. Others thought that he should thank God for President Trump as a modern-day Cyrus. Still others wanted him to pray as if President Trump was some towering paragon of faith.

David did none of those things. Here’s what he prayed:

O God, we praise you as the one universal king over all. You are our leader and our Lord and we worship you. There is one God and one Savior—and it’s you, and your name is Jesus. And we exalt you, Jesus. We know we need your mercy. We need your grace. We need your help. We need your wisdom in our country. And so we stand right now on behalf of our president, and we pray for your grace and your mercy and your wisdom upon him.

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.

The fact is, Anglican churches pray for the president each week. If you don’t want to hear the name of the president, don’t be an Anglican. He is the president. We are commanded to pray for him. You might debate the options (more on that below), but I am thankful for (and concur with) David’s prayer.

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Source: Christianity Today