Today we will inaugurate a new president. Today, the people of the United States of America, will turn the keys of the White House over the Donald Trump.
This Inauguration Day is a complicated one. On the one hand, I truly celebrate and rejoice the tradition of peaceful transfers of power among our elected officials. I am thankful that our nation, unlike many nations in our world, will transition from one leader to another without bloodshed. We can be proud that our political system, when justly executed, limits the power of our leader, limits the terms of their political influence, and gives the people a voice through elections.
On the other hand, today we are Inaugurating an ungodly man. The nation spoke through our election system, and I will respect the results of the vote. But political popularity does not render President Trump a godly man. Trump has boasted about his immorality and rejected his need to repent; he has publicly mocked Image-bearers and has made a mockery of the Christian faith. Andy Naselli summarizes Trumps past and present actions, as well as his unrepentant spirit, this way:
- Trump publicly brags about committing adultery.
- Trump mocks and disrespects people—women, the disabled, even prisoners of war.
- Trump lacks a pro-life record. He is not a pro-lifer. He can’t even defend the pro-life position.
- Trump is a con artist (e.g., Trump University).
- Trump is a demagogue. He appeals to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.
- Trump is shamelessly proud. He recently boasted, “Nobody reads the Bible more than me.” Yet he says that he has never asked God or others to forgive him for anything.
Though some Christians are hopeful that Trump is a “baby Christian”, I have seen no such fruit of God’s Spirit in his life, and I’m not particularly optimistic that we will.
So today we hold this tension in our bellies:
Today we inaugurate the president of the people’s choosing.
Today we inaugurate an ungodly man.
In the early hours of this morning, I sat in bed with my husband, Austin, and read through Proverbs 20. My heart was unmoving. As we shared prayer requests, reminding each other of friends we wanted to lift up in prayer, today’s inauguration sat like a lump in my throat. I didn’t want to mention it, because I knew that if I did I would be obligated to pray for it – and for President Trump.
Over the last several months, I have lived in a bit of ignorance. During the campaign season, I didn’t think Trump would stand a chance. When Evangelical leaders started endorsing him, I was confused and estranged from the conversation. When he won the election, I was shocked. But even now, even today as he is inaugurated as the President of the United Stated, I am still ignorantly surprised. Somehow, I foolishly through this day wouldn’t come.
And in my ignorance, I have not prayed. Blindly, I have shut my eyes to the fact that Trump will now lead our nation, and I have not prayed for him. Not once.
The book of Proverbs provided me a poignant reminder this morning of how godly leaders are to lead. Throughout the book of Proverbs, the nation’s leaders are called “kings”, and the author spills much ink on the topic. Thankfully, we don’t have a king in the United States; Trump’s power will be curbed and his time in leadership will be limited. Yet, we can (and should) pray that President Trump’s leadership embodies the wisdom of the book of Proverbs.
I asked myself this morning how the godly can pray for an ungodly leader, and the book of Proverbs answered:
Proverbs 8:14-16: We pray that he will lead with justice, and surround himself with just rulers.
Proverbs 14:34-35: We pray that he will be glad to appoint wise leaders, and feel great shame when he appoints foolish leaders.
Probers 16:11-13: We pray that he will love honesty and hate wrongdoing; that he will value those who will speak the truth (to him and to others).
Proverbs 20:27-28: We pray that his leadership will be embedded with love and faithfulness, shown to our nation and to other nations.
Proverbs 25:4-5: We pray that he will remove wicked leaders from power, and that he will rule – and will appoint leaders who will rule – with righteousness.
Proverbs 29:4: We pray that he will seek justice and bring justice to our nation, and that our nation will experience great stability only when we see justice done for all.
Proverbs 29:13-14: We pray that he would look on the poor with fairness, and remember that no act, legislation, meeting, or decision goes unnoticed by our God who loves the poor, always reminded that God will hold him to account for all he does.
I don’t know what the next four years will hold, but here is what we do know: God hears the prayers of His people. So, would you join me in praying for President Trump? Would you repent with me for not praying sooner, and for not praying for our leaders past? Would you commit with me to come before our God of grace and ask Him to show us the way forward in these complicated times in which we live under an ungodly leader?
Until our King comes with His Kingdom of goodness and righteousness, and establishes His holy reign – forever.