A Response to Paula White, Franklin Graham Praying at Donald Trump Inauguration

Paula White and Franklin Graham join four other faith leaders at Donald Trump's inauguration. This created some controversy among Christians.

As I’m sure you’ve heard, Donald Trump’s swearing-in ceremony will include six faith leaders.  As reported by CNN,

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:

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.

About John L. Rothra
Know, Show, Share Merch
Stay Updated

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. Sondra

    In the New Testament we do not see followers of Christ holding office in man’s government, nor did they desire to do so. What man has designed has no relevance, accept to be influenced in every way by the Kingdom of God. In Luke 13:20-21 (NKJV), Jesus tells us what the Kingdom of God is like: “And again He said, “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God?  It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures[d] of meal till it was all leavened.”

    1. Dr. John L. Rothra

      There are many things not recorded in Scripture, and we shouldn’t draw lessons from what Scripture does not address, aka, arguing from silence. As Kostenberger wrote:
      “I’ll close with one of my favorite categories, that of non sequiturs (Latin for “does not [logically] follow”). Many examples could be given, but perhaps most common under this rubric are illegitimate arguments from silence. For example, consider the not-uncommon assertion that the reason why Mark and John don’t mention the virgin birth is that they either didn’t know about it or, if they did, didn’t believe in it. This clearly doesn’t follow logically and is both a non sequitur and an illegitimate argument from silence. What about other reasons, such as Mark’s desire for concision or John’s reference to Jesus’ eternal preexistence as the Son of God?” (src. http://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/logical-fallacies/)

      1. Sondra

        With all due respect, I hold to scripture-, Luke 13:20-21. This is truth from the mind of Christ, not from man’s institutions. What is your interpretation?

        1. Dr. John L. Rothra

          My point was that you seemed to argue that Christians should abstain from seeking or holding political office based on the fact that the New Testament does not record any Christians doing so. If so, then that is an argument from silence, which is a hermeneutical error.

          As to Luke 13:20-21, Jesus is not addressing governmental offices or civic jobs. Rather, he’s discussing the nature of the kingdom. In those two verses he uses the metaphor of leaven in a positive aspect (he also used it negatively when talking about sin). His point in Luke 13 was that the kingdom begins small and grows larger from there. This is considered by some to be a prophecy, though it is also based on history. Prophetically, the kingdom began with him, grew to his disciples, and grew larger form there to span the globe. Jesus wasn’t discussing civics or political jobs in that passage.

          1. Sondra

            I think Jesus was showing that the true Kingdom of God influences and overtakes any system, The Kingdom of God is a separate government, and it is spirit. After years of clergy prayers at government assemblies, the Kingdom of God has not influenced, nor changed anything. So, I must conclude that neither those holding political office, nor those offering prayers are not a part of the Kingdom of God. The proof is in the proverbial pudding, which is yet to be leavened.

  2. phyllis cole

    My point did they pray for past presidents, regarding of their political party

    1. Dr. John L. Rothra

      I can’t speak to the past actions of White, Franklin, or any other individual. However, we each can — and should — focus more on our present actions. Regardless of what others do, are we following Christ and praying for others?

  3. Sondra

    Yes, we are to petition, pray, intercede, and give thanks for all men; for kings and all in authority. Paul was instructing Timothy regarding worship. However, an inauguration is not such an event. God desires that our worship be in spirit and in truth (John 4:24), and evangelical leaders who pray would be showing partiality. (Did they pray for past presidents?) This is not in spirit and truth. God is not a respecter of persons. Whenever a minister of the gospel chooses to be a part of another kingdom, compromise is inevitable. They cannot escape it. I pray for them all.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

I’m Here to Help You

I want to help you and your church know, show, and share the gospel of Jesus!

Having been involved with churches of various sizes—from small rural churches to urban megachurches—I offer my experience and education to you.

Schedule me to speak or to be a guest on your podcast or YouTube channel.