How is the church meant to heed Paul’s directive to pray for “those in authority”?
This Sunday, hundreds of Christian leaders and congregations across the US will join Franklin Graham in a special day of prayer for President Donald Trump.
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association president, who prayed at Trump’s inauguration, said that the president needs prayer to “protect, strengthen, encourage, and guide” him in the face of political attacks.
He cited the call to pray for leaders from 1 Timothy 2:
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (v. 1–4)
Beyond a designated day of prayer, many congregations include political leaders in their weekly petitions during Sunday gatherings. As they pray, leaders often emphasize God’s sovereignty over earthly kingdoms, unity in the body of Christ, and our desire to see goodness and flourishing in our country.
Some US Christians have questioned whether national calls to prayer around certain issues or leaders “politicize” prayer to partisan ends. Each year around holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, leaders caution against conflating patriotism and worship. (This year, the National Association of Evangelicals has focused on the Great Commandment [Matt. 22:37–39] for its “Pray Together Sunday” over the July 4 weekend.)
Many of the president’s evangelical advisers have signed on to Sunday’s day of prayer, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Jack Graham, Robert Jeffress, and Paula White, who …