This week we will be reading 1 Timothy 2. The first part of this chapter concerns our duty to be in constant prayer. In v.2, Paul specifically instructs us to pray for “kings and all who are in high positions.” The Church’s liturgy reflects this teaching. The 1979 Book of Common Prayer specifically instructs that the Prayers of the People should always contain a petition for “The Nation and all in authority.” (1979 BCP 383). Some of the form prayers specifically pray for the “President” while others simply offer a more generic prayer for “all who govern and hold authority.” The Prayers of the Faithful in the Roman Catholic Church and the Great Litany in the Eastern Churches (which correspond to our Prayers of the People) also contain petitions for the president and those in authority.
Within the Episcopal Church, praying for the President by name has generally been an accepted tradition. With the election of Donald Trump, there were some congregations who contemplated dropping prayers for the President or at least dropping the name because of the contentiousness of the election. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry directly addressed this issue in the attached statement where he strongly affirmed this tradition and reminded us why we pray for the President. In the statement, he says when we pray for the President, we pray for his well-being for he too is a child of God and we pray for his leadership that will seek the common good. When we pray for our President we are praying for our nation, our society, and ourselves. Prayer is never a declaration of partisan support for whomever the President is. Rather, as he points out, in the black Episcopal congregations his father led in the 1950’s and 1960’s, they often prayed for Presidents who actively opposed their civil rights, because that’s what Jesus would have them do. Praying for the president, particularly one that you may not support, also prevents the demonization of that President which is greatly needed in these hyper-politically partisan times. Please read his statement this week as it may be a topic of our conversation.
Finally, as was widely reported, President Trump made an unplanned appearance at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, Virginia last Sunday. In my opinion, the prayer offered by their pastor provides us with a great example of how we should pray for our President:
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.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is lasagna. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here. Please bring a friend.
Give the King your justice, O God,Psalm 72:1-2
*and your righteousness to the King’s son;
That he may rule your people righteously *
and the poor with justice.