Since President Trump took office a year ago, U.S. Christians have been bitterly divided over whether his actions and words are good, bad or even worth being concerned about. Some peace-minded Christians continue to call for resistance to Trump’s policies or his administration in general. Many others, at the least, have serious concerns about how the administration’s actions will affect them or their friends.
Regardless of where we stand on the political spectrum, we are instructed to pray “for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:2).
Prayer should be our first course of action to resist any opposition or discouragement. But it can be difficult to know how to pray for authorities. Today, based on 1 Timothy, we might begin by asking if the Trump administration’s actions are conducive to our ability to lead a quiet, peaceful, godly and dignified life. This might lead us to a more important question: What about the peace and dignity of our neighbors, the poor, immigrants and minorities?
The version of Christianity for which the president expresses affinity is often out of step with the values of Jesus. His administration supports the freedom to exercise certain faith-based values, which may bring relief to Christians embroiled in legal battles over conscience, sexuality and work. But Trump’s policies have been disruptive to Christians who are immigrants, refugees or those helping them.
If the administration is making certain things easier for some Christians but more difficult for others, how do we pray?
There’s a clue in the story of the disciple Ananias in Acts 9. The story of the Apostle Paul’s conversion is famous for the ascended Jesus’ audible intervention in Saul’s plans to harm the church, but it’s easy to forget that God used the fearful Ananias to complete Saul’s spiritual transformation.
Ananias had good reason to be afraid. The murderous Saul was having believers imprisoned, convinced he was doing the work of God. But Jesus instructed Ananias to lay his hands on Saul “so that he might regain his sight” (Acts 9:12). Despite his hesitancy, Ananias obeyed, and “immediately something like scales fell from [Saul’s] eyes, and his sight was restored” (Acts 9:18).
In Iowa City, Gloria Villatoro has led her four children and her Mennonite congregation without her husband, Max, for three years since he was deported to Honduras. What if we prayed that the scales would fall from the eyes of the president and his advisers so that this church would have its pastor returned? What if we prayed that Trump would have a transforming encounter with Christ? Who knows what might be possible?