At this point, I'll quote from Tim Challies's blog. I had heard about Trump appearing before a church asking for prayer. It was Challies who provoked me to click and learn more.
PRAYER FOR THE PRESIDENTDavid Platt explains how he found himself praying for President Trump on Sunday morning. “Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that we didn’t see coming, and we’re faced with a decision in a moment when we don’t have the liberty of deliberation, so we do our best to glorify God. Today, I found myself in one of those situations.”Platt found himself in a very typical pastoral situation, not that the President regularly appears in a church requesting prayer, but pastors frequently find themselves in situations when they have to make potentially important--even life-altering decisions in a very brief time. I have often been in these Nehemiah moments. You remember, don't you, when Nehemiah stood before the absolute sovereign of Persia. In the sycophantic culture of the palace, Nehemiah had been caught in what could be a capital crime. “Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick?" (Nehemiah 2:2) Sadness in the monarch's presence was considered an insult. Nehemiah bravely summarized the source of his discomfort, the plight of his people, the Jews, who lived on the fringe of the Persian kingdom. I figure Nehemiah's senses must have been on high alert. The plight of his people was the result of the policy and practice of the Persian administration, and he was standing before the Supreme Persian. Nehemiah's relief at not being immediately dragged away was short-lived.
Then the king said to me, “What are you requesting?”" (2:4)
In that brief moment--that was all he had--Nehemiah prayed.
I figure Platt uttered one of those "Help, Lord!" prayers as he decided how to handle the request put before him. President Trump had shown up, unannounced, toward the end of a service, and requested that the McLean Bible Church have a time of public prayer for him. (It would appear from the report that the President's request was not disruptive--at least not to those other than Pastor Platt.)
I've not made requests before all-powerful Kings or had the controversial President of my nation appear at a service requesting prayer. I have, many, many times found myself in situations when I needed to decide fairly quickly, knowing that the decision wasn't completely black or white and/or knowing that either way I decided there would be consequences, some negative. Just off the top of my head here are some. Fellow pastors will note, "been there, decided that."
- Phone call from a funeral director: "Rev. Merrell, The family of Sally Jones has asked that you speak at her funeral." At this point the default, "Yes, of course." answer is on my lips. "Oh, and by the way Rev. Objectionable will also be speaking." Fill in the blank. Rev. Objectionable is a heretic, sexually immoral person, member of a group that is Theologically obnoxious, or someone who has instulted me and my church, etc.
- Walking into a hospital room of a person who has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. The family has been diagnosed with a sickness called "denial." In hushed tones they instruct me, "Don't mention that she has cancer."
- In spite of my best efforts to set up policies and guidelines, someone or something comes along that doesn't quite fit what I had already decided. As I make up my mind I can already hear the protests, "But you didn't do that for . . ." The nuance that influenced my spur of the moment decision would be lost on my detractors.
- I wish I could more consistently take comfort in the knowledge that our Lord suffered at the hands of critics. "He hangs out with tax-collectors and prostitutes." Too frequently, my thoughts continue, "Yes, and they crucified Him."
I could go on, but I think I have made the point, at least one point, of this post. Church-member, your pastor is called on to make decisions that you will never have to make and often make those choices in a Nehemiah moment. Cut him some slack. More importantly, pray for him.
For what it is worth, I think Platt made the right decision. He probably won't read this, but I figure I ought to stick up for someone who is making a good effort to do the right thing in a turblent context. To those who think otherwise, I ask you to consider, would your objection still be there if the President were Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Sanders, or (fill in the blank with your favorite)?
I also was convicted by the news. I find it difficult to consistently pray for my leaders. Often mention of "Kings and all who are in high places" in my public prayers are most prominent by their absence. I need to do better.
Below is the link to a post in which Pastor Platt shares his thoughts. It concludes with a video of him praying for President Trump.
BTW, a word of thanks to Denise Gregson for giving me a heads up about Tim Challies post. :)