A Prayer for President Trump on His Inauguration Day
Today, Americans will witness the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the forty-fifth president of the United States. Though the election campaign was characterized by a high degree of political polarization and personal rancor, Americans can rejoice that once again our nation is peacefully transferring power between administrations. This peaceful transfer continues a tradition that began with George Washington, our first president, passing executive authority to John Adams, his successor. It is the envy of nations and an event that we should not take for granted, but for which we instead should be immensely grateful.
As general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, I am calling upon Assemblies of God credentialed ministers, congregations, and adherents to commit themselves to prayer for President Trump and his administration. In doing so, I am mindful of the apostle Paul’s admonition to Timothy: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving should be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live in peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1–4).
The apostle Paul tells us that we should pray for those who govern us, and why, but he does not tell us for what we should pray. In Psalm 72, we find a prayer of Solomon for the coronation of Israel’s king. The coronation of an Israelite king is not the same thing as the inauguration of an American president, obviously. However, Psalm 72 identifies four requests that are appropriate to pray regardless of the form of government or the person holding office.
And so, let us pray for President Trump on his inauguration that his administration would be characterized by:
“Endow the king with your justice, O God,” Solomon writes, “the royal son with your righteousness” (verse 1).
Justice and righteousness are virtues. The former describes the conditions of a fair society and the latter the character of a good person. Solomon’s words thus call on us to pray for President Trump that his actions and intentions would conform to the moral law of God and be applied wisely and humbly in the realm of public policy.
More than that, however, Solomon’s words urge us to pray that President Trump’s leadership would be mindful of the weakest members of society. Notice Solomon’s solicitude for the “afflicted” (verses 2, 4, 12), the “needy” (verses 4, 12–14), and the “weak” (verse 12). All persons should be treated justly and rightly because they are valuable in God’s eyes, of course, but the weakest members of society are the most vulnerable and therefore merit special consideration. Solomon declares, “precious is their blood in [God’s] sight” (verse 14). It is thus government’s God-given moral duty to protect the weak against the “oppressor” and the violent (verses 4, 14).
And so we pray: Endow President Trump with your justice and righteousness, O God—especially for the most vulnerable!
“May the mountains bring prosperity to the people, the hills the fruit of righteousness” (verse 3).
In Hebrew, the word the NIV translates as “prosperity” is shalom — peace. Peace is the fruit of justice and righteousness. It is not merely the absence of conflict but more importantly the presence of harmony. Where such harmony characterizes society, the common good is achieved and is shared through widespread prosperity.
Solomon describes this prosperity in terms of weather and crops. “May [the king] be like rain falling on a mown field, like showers watering the earth” (verse 6). We often speak of trickle-down economics, but what we really need is gentle-rain justice. Abundance flows where justice rains: “May grain abound throughout the land; on the tops of the hills may it sway” (verse 16).
Because Solomon prayed, “In his days may the righteous flourish and prosperity abound till the moon is no more” (verse 7), we pray: May President Trump’s administration and policies produce the fruit of peace and prosperity!
“Long may he live!” (verse 15).
One of the crucial differences between Israel’s king and America’s president is tenure in office. A king holds a lifetime appointment, whereas our president is limited to two four-year terms of office. Regardless, prayer for the personal safety, health, and wellbeing of the nation’s executive is a good thing.
And so we pray: Keep President Trump safe and well!
The first two prayer requests pertain to what might be called domestic policy. We ask God to bless our nation with justice and peace. The third request pertains to the leader personally. We ask God for their wellbeing. The final request pertains to what might be called foreign policy, the relationship between our nation and others.
“Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed” (verse 17).
Solomon portrays the relationship between Israel and the surrounding nations in imperial terms. He sees Israel as an empire with vassal states. While this form of government was common in his day, it is not the model that America follows.
And so, in our prayers for President Trump, we are not asking that God would establish America as an empire. Instead, we are praying that just as Solomon envisioned the nation of Israel as a blessing to the nations surrounding it, so America would be a blessing to its neighbors.
Just as Solomon linked justice and peace together in terms of domestic policy, so here he links justice and blessing together. The king’s influence would spread — “May he rule from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (verse 8) — precisely because he pursued justice for the most vulnerable: “For he will deliver the needy who cry out, the afflicted who have no one to help” (verse 12).
And so we pray: Under President Trump’s leadership, may our nation be a blessing to other nations, and theirs to ours — especially to the most needy among us!
In closing, I hasten to point out that this prayer establishes a moral ideal. No Israelite king, world leader, or American president ever exemplified perfect justice, peace, and blessing in their tenure in office. The Lord Jesus Christ — the King of kings and presidents — alone is sinless.
Consequently, it is unrealistic to expect President Trump’s administration to achieve perfection. Indeed, Scripture commands us, “Do not put your trust in princes” precisely because they “cannot save” (Psalm 146:5). However, we should always expect improvement from our political leaders, both in the conformity of their policies to the moral law of God and in the competent execution of those policies.
So, today, I call on you all to pray for President Donald J. Trump, that his administration would be characterized in ever-increasing measure by justice, peace, safety, and blessing. As Solomon urges us to pray, “May people ever pray for him and bless him all day long” (verse 15).