By Samuel M. Frost, Th.M.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior” (the Apostle Paul’s personal letter written to Timothy, a fellow believer and disciple of Paul – circa 60-62 C.E./A.D.)
In the Book of Common Prayer (used by Anglicans/Episcoplians worldwide), the 1928 prayer states, “A Prayer for The President of the United States, and all in Civil Authority. O Lord, our heavenly Father, the high and mighty Ruler of the universe, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth; Most heartily we beseech thee, with thy favour to behold and bless thy servant THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, and all others in authority; and so replenish them with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that they may always incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue them plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant them in health and prosperity long to live; and finally, after this life, to attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”
Now, for those who claim that Jesus is Risen, that He is Lord, whether they be Democrats, Libertarians, Republicans, Leftists, Social Democrats or what have you, are you following this entreaty of Paul? For, as he stated, this is good and pleasing to God.
Now, in Paul’s day, when he wrote this, Nero Caesar was in power (54-68 C.E.). If you know anything about Nero, he eventually became intolerable to the Senate and the people due to his bloodthirsty rages, his lust for boys, and his insane, narcissistic implementations of Roman law. How would you like to have as President someone who cut off the heads of Christians and torched their bodies to be used as lamps in their patio? And, yet, here we find Paul’s words. It is a strong tradition in Christianity, possibly rooted in historical fact, that Paul suffered death under Nero.
Praying for the President does not mean an endorsement of the President. Praying for the President does mean a total acceptance of him, his personal life, or his demeanor or candor. Equally, it does not mean, either, an acceptance of his policies. What it does mean, however, for Paul anyway, is that God places in authority whom He wills. We may not like it. We may, in fact, be completely against it. But, it is, nonetheless, established. We may seek to work against it in accordance with the laws and policies that have been established. But, one thing, regardless, that we are not off the hook of is prayer. If our current President is not to your liking, that is fine – let each person be persuaded by their own opinion- however, if such dislike causes you to not even pray for him – then your problem is not with the President, but with God. If your heart has such contempt that even prayer cannot be said, then the issue is much deeper, for did not God love you and send his Son to die on your behalf, O’ miserable soul that you are? “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.” If you are not able to pray for our President, then perhaps what this is saying is, is that you are not so wretched, but that he is. That you are, maybe, a tad bit better on the totem pole of “good”. That perhaps you are a little more deserving of the blessings of God on your life, but not on his.
Just a thought.