Within minutes of President Trump and first lady Melania Trump confirming their respective positive COVID-19 diagnoses, social media lit up with well-wishers offering thoughts and prayers for the first couple’s speedy and complete return to good health.
But not all of those who weighed in were supporters of the president.
“Jill and I send our thoughts to President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump for a swift recovery,” former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, said in a statement. “We will continue to pray for the health and safety of the president and his family.”
SUPPORTERS GATHER FOR PRAYER VIGIL FOR TRUMP OUTSIDE WALTER REED
I appreciate the sentiment and sincerity from the Bidens, especially given the contentiousness of the current political climate.
As a Christian, I’m always deeply heartened and humbled when my friends and loved ones offer to pray for me. The idea of someone bringing my needs directly to the Creator of the universe is overwhelming and deeply meaningful to me.
But is it reasonable to expect my adversaries and traditional antagonists to pray for me?
The “Sermon on the Mount” is arguably the world’s most quoted faith message, a collection of sayings from Jesus that were recorded in Matthew’s Gospel. In many ways, it contains Christendom’s foundational ethics surrounding personal behavior.
Not everyone has been charitable or gracious regarding the president and his wife’s illness, of course. But as I scrolled through Biden’s statement and messages from other Trump critics who nevertheless promised to pray for the president, Jesus’ profound words from that sermon came to mind.
“Love your enemies,” Jesus told those gathered. It was a countercultural message then — and now. It’s not natural to pray for someone you don’t like. Instinctively, we want to lash out and strike back at them. We want to fight fire with fire.
Even on our good days, the best many of us can muster for our enemies is to ignore them. Yet, I’m commanded to not just tolerate them, but to pray for them (Matt. 5:44).
Why should “enemies” of the president and Mrs. Trump still pray for them?
Prayer doesn’t necessarily change God’s mind — but it changes us. It draws us closer to Him and deepens our relationship with the Almighty. When we pray for others, especially for those with whom we may disagree, we’re acknowledging that we ultimately trust God’s will and way.
During President Obama’s two terms, I was sometimes chastened by friends for extending my conservative right hand of fellowship to his administration. We strongly disagreed on key policies, but I prayed regularly for President Obama’s safety and welfare.
I believe strongly in being conservative in my politics — but liberal in my fellowship and in my willingness to pray for others.
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The Apostle Paul urged those in the early Christian Church to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions” (1 Tim. 2:2). He was aware that many of those in government despised followers of Jesus, but still knew Christ’s commandment applied to all leaders. The admonition contained no caveat concerning an ideological litmus test for being deserving of those prayers.
But Paul also promised that when we pray for those in authority, our prayers position us to “lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.”
Doesn’t that sound very appealing, especially in 2020?
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I hope those who disagree with President Trump will still pray for him. It’s in the best interest of all Americans for their president and first family to be vibrant and healthy. Where there is security and safety, there is stability — both personally and for our nation.
President and Mrs. Trump are in my family’s prayers — and I hope in the prayers of many other families, both friends and foes.
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