At the conclusion of my Tuesday night Bible study this week, my pastor asked us to join hands and form a circle to pray. Many of the usual requests expressed in church prayer were addressed, such as grace and protection for family and friends, and complete healing of illnesses. We are currently studying the seven distinct Spirits of God mentioned in Isaiah 11:2, which include wisdom, understanding, counsel, might and knowledge. In praying for the manifestation of these divine attributes within us, we also lifted up someone whom we are asking God to touch: President Donald Trump.
I can imagine a conversation that I could have with a harsh Trump critic if I were to share that I am praying for our president. Our discussion, which I would optimistically hope to be civil, would probably start with a rant, given current and past scandals that have followed Trump. This hypothetical critic could begin saying: "The entire impeachment process was a debacle! There is more to the whistleblower's story, and people won't forget this in November!" The dialogue could then shift to "Trump is misogynistic and prejudiced! He has an appalling history of attacking women, and his 2020 MLK Day tweet was disrespectful!" And, finally, a contentious view on religion and politics would most likely be mentioned: "His evangelical base believes every word he says!" To which my simple response with a smile would be: "There is no doubt that Trump has been mired in controversy during his presidency, and he is a polarizing figure. This is why we should pray for him."
Now, many would be stunned, and some may be disgusted at my perspective regarding Trump due to me obviously being an African American woman. Trump's present approval rating among African Americans is pretty dismal, to say the least. According to a January Washington Post-Ipsos poll, 9 out of 10 blacks disapprove of his job performance, and 83% of the respondents stated they believe he is racist and has "exacerbated the country's race problems while in office." I know that many African Americans have practically "no love" at all for Trump. I am not looking at him from a racial perspective but a spiritual one. And from a spiritual or divine viewpoint, I am not governed by race or partisan affiliation, although I do faithfully exercise my right to vote so that my voice will be heard on social, educational and economic issues that affect my community.
As a believer in God through Jesus Christ, I cannot hate Trump for all of his obvious personal faults and shortcomings. Is he bombastic? Yes. Mercurial? Definitely. It's undeniably easy to point our fingers at Trump, and criticize him for the outrageous statements he has made and the immoral things he has done. Many will continue to speak out against corruption within his administration. However, since Trump is still our president, I have chosen to abide by what Scripture teaches regarding our leaders. In 1 Timothy 2: 1-3, the Apostle Paul wrote that "supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority ... For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour." These verses actually simplify politics when it comes to the church. Christians are called to pray for government officials. This commandment is not predicated on whether our chosen candidate was elected or not. Now, I will be completely honest and admit that I have not always fallen on my knees for some of our leaders due to letting my emotions overtake me on various political issues, but that is not how God wants me to react, and in reflecting on how toxic Washington has become within the past decade, Capitol Hill certainly needs prayer.
My church is going to continue to pray for Trump during our Bible study sessions. We don't agree with everything he says or does, but we do respect the authority of the office he holds. This is why we are interceding for him and asking God to give him discretion, basically an understanding heart as he governs our nation.
Dr. Jessica A. Johnson is a lecturer in the English department at Ohio State University's Lima campus. Email her at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter: @JjSmojc. To find out more about Jessica Johnson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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