St. Peter wrote, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:17) That Emperor would go on to execute Peter, Paul, and other Christians. St. Paul wrote, “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.” (1 Timothy 2:1-2)
Have you prayed for President Obama, Mrs. Obama, Vice President Biden, and other leaders? Some of you tell me you pray against them. But do you pray for them? Do you pray that they be faithful instruments of God’s will? Do you pray for their health and well being and protection?
Today is Maundy Thursday. Tomorrow starts the holiest weekend in the Christian calendar. Many scholars, though not all, think the word “maundy” derives from the latin “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos,” or “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” (John 13:34)
Your neighbor is more than the person who lives next to you. The President is our leader and, in our democracy, a fellow citizen and neighbor. We are to show him love and we are to pray for him.
For those of us in constant opposition to him, it is far easier to want to pray against him, to pray that God protect us from him, etc. But the Bible is clear. We are to pray for our leaders. That includes the President of the United States.
I pray that he is protected from harm. I pray that he glorifies God in his actions. I pray that he turns his heart toward God’s will. I pray that he feels the presence of Christ in his life. I do not pray these things every day, but I do pray for the President often. It is humbling to pray for someone I so vehemently disagree with. It changes me for the better as much as I hope my prayers help change him. Christianity is not meant to be easy. We are sometimes called to do those things we prefer not to do — uncomfortable acts that do as much for our own souls as for those on whose behalf we pray or work.
A majority of our fellow citizens chose Barack Obama to be our President. As St. Paul wrote, “[T]here is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1) The President is here, whether I want him or not, because God is using the President as an instrument of God’s own will. That is both a fearsome and awesome responsibility. Because of this and because we are commanded, whether we like him or agree with him or not, we must pray for our President.