Prayer controversy: Snapshot of swirling abyss swallowing up America

Sometimes, the stark contrast couldn’t be more obvious.

When Pastor David Platt decided to pray for President Trump a couple of weeks ago, he realized he was in a no-win situation. He knew some would cheer the decision and the opportunity, and he knew others would frown on and disparage his choice.

And, he apparently became an “increased security risk” as a result.

Time and again in this day and age of politics, there is no middle ground. For the most part, the country is split in half with decidedly different opinions about the way forward. And, unfortunately, “no middle ground” means no room for conversation, only disdain for anything the other side may do or say.

Still, Platt — the pastor at McLean Bible Church in Virginia — walked a stark fine line by following scripture to pray for those in authority and steering completely away from the political arena.

Platt, who is essentially apolitical in his church and in his personal walk, didn’t mention politics, didn’t endorse Trump or any of his accomplishments (or shortcomings), and the president didn’t speak. Just a prayer for Trump, not policies or legislation, only “…wisdom and help to lead our country alongside other leaders.”

Here is the complete text of his prayer:

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.

And some people were obviously not happy. Even some of his church members were offended.

But we shouldn’t be any more offended than churchgoers at Saddleback Church years ago when its pastor, Rick Warren, hosted President Obama during a regular church service. And, they did touch on political issues!

Reasonable people can disagree on the president’s personal life, his professional life, his policies, his approach and even his lifestyle. Reasonable people can clash on politics in general and it doesn’t seem even the politicians themselves can sit down for a civil conversation.

But this wasn’t a conversation. It was a one-way prayer, an opportunity for Platt — and by extension, his congregation — to have a spiritual influence on a controversial man. According to all the news reports, Trump requested the prayer and the church agreed to pray.

And Platt merely followed his scriptural duty and mandate from 1 Timothy 2:1-4:

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This seeming discord is a snapshot of the swirling abyss that is swallowing up America. If we can’t agree on elementary things and fundamental stuff like prayer — and praying for everyone — we’re doomed.

Americans may never agree on abortion, prayer in schools, health care or other moral issues, but the natural respect and consideration of a man requesting prayer from a pastor shouldn’t be a divisive issue. It shouldn’t be questioned and it shouldn’t be withheld. Still, when we have reached this moment in our history, it is telling, it is a statement and it is a revealing mile marker of the time and place we live.

Anytime you can get a politician or a leader into the church to pray for them, why not? Granted, they shouldn’t be allowed to use it as a campaign platform, but we are charged to pray for them, regardless of our opinion and regardless of their political affiliation or personal preferences.

It was Reagan who said: “If we ever forget that we are one nation under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”

Regrettably, we may be moving closer to that moment.

One comment

  1. So thoughtful, on point and well written! We are in a sad place when even the “Church” can’t agree on biblical prayer for our leaders.

    Like

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