President Trump stopped by McLean Bible Church, a megachurch near D.C., on Sunday on his way home from playing golf, where Pastor David Platt prayed for the president–a common Christian practice. Perhaps if Politico reporters and editors understood the biblical command of praying for all those in positions of authority, they might not have botched their coverage of the president’s pit stop so poorly.
On Monday, Platt wrote to his church members with an explanation of Sunday’s prayer, but Politico reported that Platt “has apologized to his congregation after praying for the president during the unscheduled visit.”
Unsurprisingly, Platt did not apologize for doing what the scriptures command him to do. As the pastor read on stage, and explained in his statement, in 1 Timothy 2:1-6, Saint Paul the apostle instructs Christians to pray for their earthly leaders.
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Platt did address members who may have been “hurt” by his prayer, but did not apologize. He simply explained how making petitions to God about those in authority is a command from God, and one that guided his response to the president’s surprise visit. “My aim was in no way to endorse the president, his policies, or his party, but to obey God’s command to pray for our president and other leaders to govern in the way this passage portrays,” he said.
Nevertheless, that not-so-minor detail missing from Platt’s statement didn’t stop Politico from running with it as the headline and framing of their story. Pitting evangelicals against the president they elected was too good of an angle to pass up. Instead, their lazy reporting portrays a pastor apologizing for practicing God’s word.
Praying for local, state, and national leaders — often by name — is a regular discipline for many Christians. Some churches carve out time for it every Sunday, but it’s not just for evangelicals. Catholics and Jews do it too.
At the time the Apostle Paul was writing these commands to his protégé Timothy, Christians were being murdered and persecuted across the Roman Empire. Emperor Nero ordered Christians to be thrown into arenas with hungry lions, torn apart by dogs, and burnt alive as human torches. Paul himself was imprisoned under Nero, yet while he sat in jail for sharing his faith, he wrote the scripture commanding Christians to pray for the very rulers who put him there.
Paul’s main reason for praying for leaders is that they may come to hear the gospel and follow Christ. “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” he writes.
Platt, who clearly understands this too, asked his members to continue to pray the same for President Trump. “Would you pray with me for gospel seed that was sown today to bear fruit in the president’s heart?” he wrote.