Like it or not, we must pray for everyone, even President Trump | Worship
Recently, I’ve encountered a number of people who had expressed a hesitancy, even inability, to pray for our new president. When a person is in such violent disagreement with someone else, prayer, that intimate act of standing vulnerable before God, is difficult. And many are in violent disagreement with President Trump.
But Jesus says what good is it if you only pray for those people you feel sorry for, or that you love? How wonderful are you if you only show compassion for righteous, agreeable people, and ignore those who anger you?
God causes rain to fall on the righteous and unrighteous. Our God is their God. Jesus says pray for all people. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. If you feel slapped on the cheek, turn your head and show kindness.
Because, prayer isn’t about changing God’s mind. Prayer is about shifting our perspective; molding our hearts and minds and lives to be more conformed to God’s love. And God knows that with the sketchy decisions we make, and the consequences, we all need prayer.
The question is, do we believe in the power of prayer? Do we believe that as we intercede and pray for wisdom, peace and justice our prayers make a difference? William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury during WWII said, “When I pray, coincidences happen; when I stop praying, the coincidences stop happening.”
Our faith says prayer makes a difference, whether we know the outcome of our prayer, or not. Prayer re-orients us to love. Prayer increases the capacity of divine love omnipresent in the universe. That’s why Jesus did so much of it.
It is no small thing to undertake praying; not just a litany of stuff that we parade before God, but really praying. The kind that has us turning our cheek and going the extra mile to bring ourselves, and the person for whom we pray, before God.
This does not mean that we must always be compliant or not get angry or not stand up when something is wrong. When Jesus says to turn the other cheek, walk the extra mile, he is not saying be a doormat. Prayer includes anger and wrath. There is a whole block of psalms filled with anger and yelling at God.
Jesus is saying deal with your own emotions and behavior, then use that knowledge, go the extra distance to stay in relationship with the other person. That’s what love is – going above and beyond. Loving those we especially want to hate. Praying for those who we don’t want to love. Because prayer is love put into action.
Of course, we pray for everybody. We are at our best when we pray, even when we don’t know how. We pray when we are hopeful, we pray when we are angry, we pray so that our hearts and minds may be conformed to God’s love. We pray that there may be greater love put into action. Because God knows we all need more love.
The Rev. Cynthia Espeseth is an Episcopal priest for St. Hilda St. Patrick. She has been ordained for 15 years. Her passions are weaving people to God and rowing.