On June 2, David Platt, the pastor of a megachurch in the metro DC area had a rare opportunity when President Trump decided to drop by his church unexpectedly during a worship service. Platt is a well-known face in the metro DC area and is one of the youngest pastors of any megachurch in the US. Trump’s visit was completely unexpected but David Platt played the man and prayed for the president in the most gospel centred and non-partisan way:
‘O God, we praise you as the one universal king over all. You are our leader and our Lord and we worship you. There is one God and one Saviour — and it’s you, and your name is Jesus. And we exalt you, Jesus. We know we need your mercy. We need your grace. We need your help. We need your wisdom in our country. And so we stand right now on behalf of our president, and we pray for your grace and your mercy and your wisdom upon him.
‘God, we pray that he would know how much you love him — so much that you sent Jesus to die for his sins, our sins — so we pray that he would look to you. That he would trust in you, that he would lean on you. That he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, and good for righteousness, and good for equity, every good path.
‘Lord we pray, that you would give him all the grace he needs to govern in ways that we just saw in 1 Timothy 2 that lead to peaceful and quiet lives, godly and dignified in every way. God we pray for your blessing in that way upon his family. We pray that you would give them strength. We pray that you would give them clarity. Wisdom, wisdom, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
‘Please, O God, give him wisdom and help him to lead our country alongside other leaders. We pray today for leaders in Congress. We pray for leaders in courts. We pray for leaders in national and state levels. Please, O God, help us to look to you, help us to trust in your Word, help us to seek your wisdom, and live in ways that reflect your love and your grace, your righteousness and your justice. We pray for your blessings on our president toward that end. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen’.
Due to some complaints from his congregants, Platt explained his actions in a letter: ‘I wanted to share all of this with you in part because I know that some within our church, for a variety of valid reasons, are hurt that I made this decision. This weighs heavy on my heart. I love every member of this church, and I only want to lead us with God’s Word in a way that transcends political party and position, heals the hurts of racial division and injustice, and honours every man and woman made in the image of God. So while I am thankful that we had an opportunity to obey 1 Timothy 2 in a unique way today, I don’t want to purposely ever do anything that undermines the unity we have in Christ’. (letter Ibid.) Others outside Platt’s church criticised Platt for his non-biased gospel prayer.
Some have tried to encourage David Platt to take part in the President’s prayer breakfast, but Platt is not keen on joining in. Cliff Sims told Christianity Today, ‘When pastors get involved in the political space in a public way, there are drawbacks and it can put pastors in a position where people suddenly view them through a political lens’, (David Platt Asks God to Grant Trump ‘All the Grace He Needs to Govern’, Christianity Today, 6/3/19).
Other aides quipped that inviting Platt would be counter-intuitive, ‘[Platt] believes that the American dream is evil. The President’s going to be really mad when he finds out that you’re bringing in someone to speak at the prayer breakfast who believes that the American dream is evil.’ (Christianity Today, Ibid.)
In a fourth of July sermon, Platt stated his own view of non-partisan politics, ‘Some people who held Barack Obama in high honour are having a hard time showing honour for Donald Trump. Others of us have much honour for Donald Trump, but had a hard time showing honour for Barack Obama. Some of us have had a hard time honouring either of them,’ (Christianity Today, Ibid.).
As Christians, we have a unique and special role in praying for our leaders and the civil authorities. The Scriptures give us commands to be subject to the governing authorities (Romans 13), to pay taxes to whom taxes are owed (Matthew 22:21), and to pray for those who are in authority over us. Let us pray that God gives us the grace to act as David Platt did.
Ben Wilkerson served with Sheffield Presbyterian Church, UK, and is a Christian writer residing in the USA.