Baker Academic

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Praying for 45 with Ron Herms

In the church of my youth, we were taught to pray for our leaders. We always prayed for the President of the United States (regardless of party). Usually our pastor prayed that the president would be granted wisdom. Those were different times. I attended a different kind of church. The ethos of American Christianity was different. The integrity of the office of POTUS was much different. 

I will confess that it had not crossed my mind to pray for the 45th president. I have, however, been reflecting on Jesus' sermon on the mount since November 9. One of the most striking teachings of Jesus is Matthew 5:44: "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." So what would it mean to take this teaching seriously in our present political climate?

Ron Herms, New Testament scholar and Dean of the School of Humanities, Religion and Social Sciences at Fresno Pacific University, suggests four ways to pray for 45. Herms recent wrote a series of posts on this topic:

Prayer #1: Every week. Every falsehood. I've identified four ways I'm praying for Donald Trump. The first is that "his folly would be exposed": this man operates in the shadows of conspiracy theories, hoaxes, and alternative realities. To him, I have no doubt, they are real. So, for the foreseeable future, truth-telling cannot be taken for granted. This is a start...  
Prayer #2: A few days ago I posted the first of four thoughts I've been praying for Donald Trump. Here is the second: I'm praying that "his arrogance will be broken." While some may hear this as judgmental-ism, nothing could be further from my intent. Such a prayer simply responds to his obviously arrogant and bullying behavior and recognizes that the people of God's kingdom have often prayed for and spoken to manipulative powers in such a way (Psalm 2; Daniel 4; Acts 4; and more). Some will say there are other, very different biblical prayers for rulers and authorities. True; my list isn't finished yet. :) For today (and in light of a lengthening list of manipulative moves by DT) this is enough...  
Prayer #3: Over the past few days I've posted two of four thoughts I've been praying for Donald Trump. Here is the third: I'm praying that "his deepest insecurities would find rest and healing." ALL of us have demons, fears, and insecurities, but most of us have the "luxury" of relative anonymity where we mask or hide them. As I pray in this way, my mind often goes to Zacchaeus in Luke 19 whose profile of wealth and struggles with physical and social stature have interesting parallels to our current president. Donald Trump is not a lost cause; this prayer believes that his future can be better than his past. Lord, have mercy…  
Prayer #4: Over the past few weeks I've posted three of four thoughts on how I'm praying about / for Donald Trump as US President. Here is the final thought: I'm praying "that his constant and public need for affirmation would be met with radical opportunities for generosity and compassion." The transformative power and deep satisfaction of giving oneself (and one's resources) away so that an "other" can flourish should not be underestimated. We're all fundamentally in need of both the gift of affirmation and the discipline of self-sacrifice; and we all benefit when those in leadership discover that to be true for themselves. This is how I'm praying for the welfare of my city / country / world (Jer 29.7).
 My thanks to Ron for allowing them to be republished here.


No comments:

Post a Comment