“President-elect Donald Trump.” Those words sound even more unlikely than, “World Series Champion Chicago Cubs.” Some dismiss Trump because of his immoral past, divisive comments or unreliable temperament. Others embrace him because of his support of conservative values or desire to shake up the status quo. How should we as the church respond to a President Trump? Three thoughts on gutsy and faith-filled prayer in light of our political climate.
First, we must pray. Romans 13:1–2 says that authorities have been instituted by God. Even though the Roman empire was led by evil emperors, the church still submitted to its God-given authority. Our submission is expressed in prayer for those who are in authority (1 Tim 2:1–2). This morning when I found out the results of the election, my heart was moved to deep prayer for our nation and for the church in our nation. May we not neglect but grow in such prayer.
Also we pray gutsy prayers. When we see the One seated on the throne, this vision fuels gutsy prayer. Psalm 2 responds to ungodly leadership by fixing eyes on the One “who sits in the heavens” and whose King has been set “on Zion, my holy hill” (2:4, 6). Psalm 2 continues with a gutsy prayer for the nations that even calls kings to find refuge in the King (Psalm 2:8, 11–12). Big vision of God fuels gutsy prayer for God. Tonight Psalm 2 will fuel our prayer at our Wednesday evening prayer meeting.
Finally our prayers are not only gutsy but faith-filled. We give ourselves to prayer regardless of the visible circumstance; Jesus will build his church. Our hope (or despair) does not depend on the one in the White House but the One on the heavenly throne. In 1932, Dietrich Bonhoeffer lived in the days of Hitler and called the church to persevere as the church, no matter the visible reality:
We do not know his plan. We do not see whether he builds or tears down. It may be that the times, which by human standards are times of collapse, are for him the times of great building. It may be that the times, which by human standards are times of great success, are for him times to tear down. It is a great comfort that Christ gives to his church: confess, preach and bear witness to me. I alone will build as it pleases me. Don’t give me orders. Do your job—then you have done enough. . . . Church, remain a church! You have only one Lord—Christ alone. By his grace alone you live. Christ builds.
And the power of hell shall not overcome you. . . . The confessing church is the everlasting church, because Christ protects it. Its eternal nature is not visible in this world. The waves go high over it and sometimes it appears to sink and be lost. But the victory lies with the church, because Christ the Lord is with it and he has conquered death. ‘Do not ask if the victory is yours, but believe in the victory and it is already yours (“The Search for the Church of Peter,” Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Christmas Sermons [ed. E. Robinson; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2005], 80).
The victory lies with the church. The hope of our nation lies with the church. Through the church—our prayer, our love, our confession, our sacrifice— God’s kingdom breaks into the brokenness of our world.
Let us rise up as the church, as citizens of heaven to pray for his kingdom on earth. Our work for our families, neighborhoods, schools, suburbs and cities does not stem from the authorities in Capitol Hill but the authority that flows from Calvary’s hill, from our crucified yet risen Savior who holds all authority in heaven and on earth. Let us keep our eyes on him and pray gutsy, faith-filled prayer. Together.