Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan; Reverend Dr. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference; and Paula White, pastor of New Destiny Christian Center will offer readings and give the invocation. . . . Rabbi Marvin Hier, dean and founder of the Simon Wiesenthal Center; Rev. Franklin Graham, president of Samaritan’s Purse and president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; and Bishop Wayne T. Jackson, senior pastor of Great Faith Ministries International will also offer readings and give the benediction.
Of those participating, two names seem to stand out more than the others: Franklin Graham and Paula White. The response on social media to them has been mixed, with some indifferent and others quite critical or sarcastic:
@RELEVANT & Benny Hinn? Will he be there too?
— russellminick (@1telos) December 29, 2016
@RELEVANT maybe jim bakker for good measure.
— katie 🦌✨ (@kathryn_slc) December 29, 2016
@RELEVANT Paula White, SERIOUSLY!!!
— Robert Mahan (@bobbymahan) December 29, 2016
Some of you may share their sentiments. It’s quite easy focus on Trump’s friends, attacking them and, by fiat, condemning him. However, this puts the focus on the wrong thing.
As Christians, we should spend less time worrying about Trump’s friends and more time worrying about our own faith. We should focus less on who is praying at the inauguration and focus more on our own prayer life.
The Bible makes it clear that we are to pray for political leaders, regardless of our opinions of them: “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” (1 Tim 2:1-2, NASB).
Paul doesn’t say pray only for politicians we like or leaders with whom we agree. God doesn’t say, “pray, unless you disagree with their positions,” or “pray, unless they belong to the wrong political party.” God says we are to pray for political leaders regardless of their party, positions, or programs.
Do I agree with Graham, White, and the others on all issues of theology of public policy? No. Does that matter? Not at all. It doesn’t relieve me of my obligation to pray for Donald Trump. Whether the prayers offered at the swearing-in will be biblically sound doesn’t matter, either. I’m still supposed to pray for Donald Trump.
So, what should we pray? Paul said to offer prayers of thanks and petition are to be offered. That is, thank God for those in leadership and offer prayers on their behalf. He then adds more details about the content of our prayers: for tranquil, quiet lives of godliness and dignity. In other words, pray for them to be obedient followers of Christ.
As we pray for Donald Trump, here are three specific things for which we can pray:
- Pray that God directs Trump as President
- Pray that God works through the President
- Pray that God gives Donald Trump wisdom in his actions and decisions
If Christians spend more time praying for Trump and less time nit-picking every detail, then He will work not only through Trump but also through us.