The volume and amplitude of raw enthusiasm for President Trump I witnessed at the inauguration made me a bit uncomfortable (more than the bone-chilling, wet weather and standing for 5 hours). Many people really see Trump as a messiah. This has always troubled me.
I understand exactly how Jonah Goldberg feels about crowds and creepiness. The Trump train exudes the same cult vibe that always haunted Barack Obama. As much as I was disgusted by Obama’s policies, his smooth dissembling, and his disdain for Biblical Christianity, I still prayed for him as much as I could. Obama was the president, and deserved God’s blessing and superintending over his leadership.
If we sing “God bless America,” we can do no less than to pray for its president, whoever that may be. Praying for Donald Trump is a challenge for the Christian, but presents some opportunities that Obama never left us.
May those who are fighting for window seats on the Trump Train forgive me for this, but let me speak plainly. Trump is not qualified. In no way has the president demonstrated the qualities of statesmanship, personal sacrifice, self-control, and emotional stability required for the office. As Peter Wehner wrote in the New York Times, “he simply isn’t up to the job of being president.”
But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You may have heard the bromide “God doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies the called.” I have no doubt that God allowed, or even called, Donald Trump to the presidency. Our country was on a 45 degree downgrade with no brakes headed to Godlessness and moral evil. No politician, no matter how personally Godly in character, seemed to be able to change or deflect that path.
President Trump is not a politician. He’s a political train-wreck. He’s a cultural disruptor; a megalomaniacal man-child whose capacity for self-aggrandizement has not yet found its ceiling (and likely won’t). Any president who (whether this is a tactical press distraction or not is irrelevant) would argue over the size of his inauguration crowd is in need of serious self-reflection as to the job description of “President of the United States.”
Therefore we must not pray for Donald Trump as a politician. The usual prayers (such as we heard at the nomination) of “Lord, grant him wisdom” are rather generically flat and even useless. Trump could have a direct line to the Oracle at Delphi, or the ability to channel King Solomon and it wouldn’t cure his character ills. Only the power of God can do that.
It’s better to pray with a strategy. The Bible tells us that we should boldly approach the throne of grace, and that whatever we ask of the Father in the name of Jesus will be given us. We should pray with specificity, based on our knowledge of the president and his background.
Then how do we pray? First, we pray that those who know God and have access to Trump would not be corrupted by him.
Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.”Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.
1 Corinthians 15:33-34
- Pray that Trump will consistently encounter people who love the truth, who are not deceived or deluded.
I would never, ever, claim that anyone running for office was the “man of lawlessness” in 2 Thessalonians 2. But the spirit of the age and the deception of Satan is at work in our country nonetheless.
The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
2 Thessalonians 2:9-12
- Pray that God would give Trump a love for the truth. Actual truth, not what he desires to be said about himself or America.
I believe that Trump has a God-given gift of discernment. I know people who have that gift. These people have a laser focus on what’s relevant, on what others want to hear, and what they want to protect. They have a supernatural way of asking the perfect question, pushing the right button, or making the right offer. Some people call it a “reality distortion field.” Trump has this with the additional benefit of self-awareness of the gift–he knows he has it and he knows how to use it.
When King Saul visited a medium at Endor after the prophet Samuel had died, God actually resurrected the dead spirit of Samuel to speak to him, to the surprise and horror of the medium. This kind of experience shook Saul to the core, and cemented his knowledge that God had indeed stripped Israel from him.
- Pray that God would bend President Trump’s discernment to His purposes, and that Trump would have a truly supernatural encounter that would change his life.
Donald Trump is a prideful man. Some of his pride is the healthy kind: in his kids and his achievements. Much of his pride is sinful and unhealthy. Barack Obama was also a prideful man, an arrogant man, secure in his values being the only ones that matter. Trump’s pride is more coarse and less intellectual or philosophical. His pride centers around having the tallest building, the nicest hotels, the most money, the biggest hands (“I assure you, there’s no problem.”).
God crushes arrogance, but he humbles pride. It’s likely that Obama’s legacy will be overturned by Trump, and history will remember the 44th president poorly. Unless Obama repents, he will be crushed.
“I, the Lord, will punish the world for its evil
and the wicked for their sin.
I will crush the arrogance of the proud
and humble the pride of the mighty.
With Trump, we do not wish to pray that he is crushed. But we can pray that God uses Trump’s sin to humble him and address the more grievous sin of pride.
Perhaps the most dire condition for the human soul is the condition of pride. Among all the sins of men, God seems to be most concerned with the sin of pride. In reflecting on the gravity of pride, the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas once wrote, “In order to overcome pride, God will punish certain men by allowing them to fall into sins of the flesh, which though actually are less grievous than pride itself, are outwardly more shameful . . . From this indeed, the gravity of pride is made manifest. For just as a wise physician, in order to cure a worse disease, allows the patient to contract one that is less dangerous, so that the sin of pride is shown to be more grievous, by the very fact that as a remedy God allows some of them to fall into other sins” (Summa Theologica II q.162 ad.3).
- Pray that God use Trump’s own sin, shame, and faults to humble him and teach him the more grievous sin of pride.
Lastly, one of Trump’s worst character traits is his thin-skinnedness and vulgar pettiness. This is countered by what appears to be a genuine love for the U.S. military. The president seems to be very attracted to the ideals of honor, service, sacrifice and valor that permeate the military. This is an opportunity for prayer.
If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
President Trump could be a powerful force for good, for God, and for America as a conduit for God’s power and love. He uses the word “love” more than any other presidential candidate I’ve heard, and even as president, “I love you” is now a common utterance.
- Pray that Trump find the true meaning of love and sacrifice; that his attraction to military ideals would birth a compassion and desire in him to serve without recognition. That he gives up his life for Christ and finds new life in Christ. Pray for Trump’s salvation.