Quick answer: We should pray for ourselves instead.
In a rare long-form (six-page!) statement, Donald Trump began his diatribe against the Democratic impeachers by rebuking Nancy Pelosi for saying that she prayed for him: “ Even worse than offending the Founding Fathers, you are offending Americans of faith by continually saying ‘I pray for the President,’ when you know this statement is not true, unless it is meant in a negative sense.” (annotated transcript)
It’s hard to imagine anyone other than Trump or his evangelical lapdogs being offended by Pelosi’s statement, but maybe our President has a point. Is praying for Trump a valid idea or just rhetorical positioning?
My thesis: Unless Pelosi is simply using the statement as an opportunity for establishing her own religiosity (or Trump’s lack thereof), she’s wasting her time by supplicating a higher power on behalf of one of our nation’s most egregious sinners.
I’m assuming three things about my gentle readers on Medium:
- You believe in God or some higher power.
- You believe in the power of prayer to that higher power.
- You believe that Donald Trump is doing a bad job as President of the United States.
If one or more of these statements don’t apply to you, please feel free to continue through this screed, but you probably won’t find anything here to change your mind. This is just for the “brethren and the sistren” (as Dave Gardner would say) of the First United Congregation of Believers Against Trump (lousy acronym, but it’s late and I’m running out of creativity).
There are two basic problems with praying for Trump:
If you are praying for God to change Trump’s mind / behavior, then you are asking God to violate the principle of free will.
If you’re a believer in a higher power, then you probably ask yourself practically every day “Why doesn’t the Higher Power step in to deal with XYZ?” Theologians call this the problem of theodicy or divine justice. The typical response is that the Higher Power is not responsible for XYZ; people who choose evil over good are responsible for initiating it, and everyone else is responsible for fixing…