How would you advise the new President?

The Smith Family took off yesterday for inauguration day.  I was out of town all day Sunday for ministerial visits and counseling, so I decided to try and give back to my family a bit yesterday by running around with them doing grocery shopping and such before an evening appointment that I had.  But before that, we watched the swearing in of our new President and Vice President and decided that today would be a “day off.”  (Nice thing about homeschooling: we are in charge of our own “holiday” schedule!)

My wife commented that she doesn’t know why the schools she went to (before she was homeschooled) didn’t give kids the opportunity to watch inaugurations.  Regardless of whether one’s side won or lost, they are important moments for our country and something you would think that a school would want kids to watch — given the stress on being civic-minded and such.  I mentioned that I’m sure some schools do (I think mine at least let us watch Reagan’s inauguration), and that maybe hers was an exception.

We did not watch all the festivities — which thankfully meant missing Mr. Lowery’s horribly inappropriate prayer.  (Although I did hear Mr. Warren’s prayer.  Seemed to me that in places he stretched so hard to be inclusive that he might have pulled a muscle, but at least he had testosterone enough to pray in Jesus’ name against calls to do otherwise.  I could say more, but I am straying…)  But we did watch the swearing in, itself, and some of the procession and fanfare preceding it.

Today, though, not counting the many hangovers that are surely lingering at this hour in Washington, all of that is past, and the President must get to work.  Which, of course, means we must get to work as well.  Like him or not, Barack Obama is now the President of the United States, and 1 Timothy 2:1-2 is still in the Bible:

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.

My questions today are two:

(1) What are you praying for concerning this President, and…

(2) If you had the opportunity to advise this President, what would you tell him?

I have my own answers but am more interested in yours. 🙂

17 thoughts on “How would you advise the new President?

  1. Carolyn

    1) Here are a few things I am praying for…I’m praying for not only President Obama’s safety, but also for the safety of his wife and young daughters. I’m praying that President Obama hears the cries of the unborn and grows to want to protect these babies, instead of kill them.

    2) My advice to the President…read the Bible that he so carefully chose to take the oath of office with. Get to understand what he is really saying when he asks for God to bless America, and use the word “repent” when he is talking about real “change”.

  2. Brian Maxwell

    What should we pray about?

    The scripture you quoted already provides the answer- that WE (the Church members) lead a peaceable life, etc. I dont believe we should add anything to what the scripture tells us to do in terms of praying for the President in other areas.

    We pray for the President/gov’t officials so that we have the ability to congregate on the Sabbath peacefully, be free to publish the gospel, etc. without harrassment (although of course that will come one day).

  3. Grabbing some coffee in the breakroom, I heard the frenzied screams on TV. Staring into my coffee, that constant scream starting sounding anguished.

  4. Thanks, all, for your responses so far.

    Mr. Maxwell, I agree, but I would add that I think your answer could be misinterpreted. If a simple “Father, help us to be able to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” were all that Paul was thinking of, then he wasted a lot of ink in verse one when he exhorted us “first of all” to “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks.”

    You essentially indicate this in the last part of your answer, so I don’t think that we disagree. Just as James 5:16 admonishes us to “pray for one another, that you may be healed,” most of us don’t simply kneel and pray “Please heal so-and-so, Amen” and be done with it (though at times that is all we can do) — that’s why prayer requests tend to give details, so we can go to our Father and discuss the situation with Him and pray as knowingly as we can (all the while knowing that He already knows all the details, but wants us to come to Him anyway). Doing such doesn’t “add to” the admonition of James 5:16, just as praying about particulars and details doesn’t “add to” the exhortation of 1 Timothy 2:1-2. There are a lot of details that impact a leader’s choices about those things that could affect our godly and reverent peace and quiet, and there is no problem with praying about those particulars and details.

    Additionally, there is nothing wrong with praying for President Obama and his family as one would pray for anyone else. Christ even commands us to “pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). And it is certainly “honor[ing] the king” (1 Peter 2:17) to pray for him (not that Obama is a king — don’t get me started…). When Nehemiah greets Artaxerxes with “May the king live forever” — or Daniel so greets Darius — this may have been a standard greeting, yet I do not believe (nor have cause to believe) that their wishes for their (pagan) kings’ health were insincere, nor do I think that they were saying those things under God’s displeased gaze, nor, still, do I think they violated the principle of Colossians 3:17. These things said, I think that we do have leeway enough in praying for our leaders to pray for more than their utility in our own life and cause.

    And, finally, Jer. 29:7 should cause us to consider not just praying for our peace but for a larger peace from which our peace may be derived.

    Again, I don’t think that we disagree. But I wouldn’t want anyone to think that Paul is suggesting a small thing, here, nor would I want them to feel it is wrong to pray in detail and with our leaders as “front and center” objects, so to speak.

    As I said above, thanks for the responses!

  5. My wife called during the day of the inauguration and said she found herself crying several times throughout the day. I, myself felt overwhelmed with emotion at times as I listened to the events of the day on the radio as I worked.

    Mind you, G-Dub was no saint but we now have a Marxist in the White House and a Congress to back him. This would explain the sadness in my wife and I. We love our country and know that liberalism draws people further and further from Biblical principles. We know the Tribulation is coming and this is why we sigh and cry for the abominations around us.

    My wife took full advantage of the day to teach our eldest daughter, Hannah, 6, about civics. She taught her a little about racism in Americas past and why it is significant that Barack Obama is now president. We did not bash our new president to our children. That night, when I prayed to our Father with the family around, I thanked God for protecting our President and his family that day. (I was so worried someone would take shots at him and plunge America into instant racial chaos) I asked God to continue His hand of protection on him, to bless him and his family…to guide and inspire him to do the will of God.

    The greatest thing we can do as Christians in our beloved free nation is pray for the leaders and support the Church of God as it must fulfill a ‘Jeremiah’ role that will not be easy nor well received.

  6. Brian Maxwell

    Mr. Smith-
    Thank you for your thoughts. Here is what I am driving at: Mr Obama/others have a form of religion, but as scripture tells us re modern Israel, it is a farce. Presidents invoke God, etc and the average citizen wants to think of this nation as a good nation, one that is right with God. Well, scripture tells us that this nation is going into tribulation for its manifold sins, sins like pride in OUR “great people”. We know the USA has been blessed because of promises to Abraham, not because of any righteousness we have (we dont). In that context, how can we pray that the President is succesful? That this nation prospers? Well, we simply cannot until there is repentance. Mr. Obama is not telling us to repent, so any prayers to God for any level of success is a contradiction to the reality of this nation, a nation that is near the point of destruction. Of course we pray for the day that repentance finally happens and our people are reconciled to God. But I believe Paul was specific as to HOW to pray- we pray that the Church can function, we can gather for services, for the Feast. He was specific…he answered his own question, and it is an important topic covered in 1 scripture. He did not waste his words. For us to add “lets pray for good things for this President” contradicts the many scriptures that tell us that sin produces curses. Isa 1 tells us this nation is sick from the head (President) to the toe (Joe the Plumber). Lets believe the scriptures and see the stark reality as God sees it.

  7. SL

    1.praying for him and his family as well as all of our as god’s will being done. cant’t help but to think on moses and pharoh when the pharoh, out of his own mouth, “caused” the killing of the 1st born,including his…with the president being liberal, do you think something of the sort could play out again?

    2. really take a step back and listen to what you are saying and doing (of course i realize this is part of a bigger plan)
    (keep up the good work mr. smith,and i was able to do the same with oour kiddos watching the swearing in of obama…homeschooling)

  8. Howdy, Mr. Maxwell, and thanks, again, for taking the time to share your thoughts.

    Again, I am generally not in disagreement with you. You make excellent points, many of which no one could take issue with in any way. Misguided American “We’re Number One!” pride that ignores the real reason for why we have prospered — misattributing it to our own, somehow intrinsic “greatness” or the philosophical excellence of our national ideals — is truly abominable, and you communicate that clearly.

    In addition to these considerations (alongside them, that is, and not in place of them), Isaiah 28:9-10 compels us to consider multiple verses that might impact a matter, and — while I won’t repeat them here — the verses and passages I mentioned above still have important things to say on this.

    I agree with you that the statement “Let’s pray good things for this President” is problematic — and, as far as I can tell, no one here has said that. It is problematic because it is vague. Praying that the President will be wise enough to make decisions in line with God’s law and will — isn’t this praying a “good thing for this President” that no one would have trouble with? Yet praying that the President will meet with success in all his endeavors, sinful or not — isn’t this praying for a “good thing for the President” that all of us would have trouble with? So it is problematic because it is vague, to be sure.

    Of course we should pray that the nation will repent — and I hope we all do! And there is nothing wrong with praying, specifically, that President Obama might experience an unlikely epiphany that could get the repentance ball rolling. We absolutely must “believe the scriptures and see the stark reality as God sees it,” and the reality is, indeed, ugly. So ugly that “ugly” seems insufficient a description, to be sure.

    But just to be clear: The Scripture shows us clearly that praying for someone’s benefit does not automatically equate to approving of him or endorsing his sin, nor does it equate to resisting God’s judgment or punishment. In fact, while waiting for God’s justice and vengeance we are commanded to feed our hungry enemies and refresh with drink our enemies who thirst — that is our means of “heap[ing] coals of fire on his head” until God visits him with his due recompense (cf. Romans 12:14, 19-20). Remember, our enemies should be identical with God’s enemies (else, we must ask why they are our enemies) — and God, through Paul and Christ, commands us to bless our enemies (v. 14), feed them (v. 20), give them drink (v. 20), do good to them (Matt. 5:44), and pray for them (v.44). Are we to ignore these commands of God because we are risking preventing the curses their sin will bring on them? Does obeying God in these things somehow equate to resisting Him? If we are commanded to meet our enemies’ needs in this way, is it sin merely to pray that those same needs are met? Were Jesus and Stephen wrong for asking God to forgive their murderers? Is it wrong in all cases to pray that a pagan nation prospers and has peace? If so, then God commanded the Jews wrongly when He ordered them to pray for the peace of the pagan nation that held them captive in Jeremiah 29:7 — a nation that, like ours, was destined by God for punishment (Jer. 50). Of course, He did not command them wrongly, and the example and exhortation here is worth meditating on.

    Now, none of this to to say that we should simply pray with abandon for every whisper of policy of President Obama to come to successful fruition. It is meant, merely, to highlight the fact that this passage in 1 Timothy can be dismissed much too easily, and that meditation on the matter (as well as faithfully applying Isaiah 28:9-10) can add insight and instruction.

    (The following is somewhat related to all of this: The fact that President Clinton so strongly supported “tolerance” in the workplace taught me the fallacy of praying too specifically about specific policies. Given that the “tolerance” approach was generally meant primarily to promote acceptance of “lifestyles” of which God does not approve, I found such policies to be disgraceful and certainly never prayed that God would bless those efforts. Yet we can now look back and see that many members of the Church of God have actually benefited from those ill-intended policies, as some employers felt nervous about firing them over their Feast of Tabernacles observance, etc. Consequently, I learned that just as God used Samson’s own selfishness and lust for His own purposes, God is able to turn even stupid and wrongheaded policies in our favor. Does that mean that I should pray that every godless policy my leaders wish to pursue should work out? Of course not, and I’m not saying it was wrong not to pray that those particular policies would succeed. In the same circumstance, I would do the same thing. Still, it taught me something that speaks to what both of us are saying.)

    Again, I do not think I disagree with you. However, I think your comment could be taken by some to prevent consideration of these things (even to consider scriptural commands somehow unscriptural), hence my horribly and unnecessarily wordy addendum, here!

    Thanks, again, Mr. Maxwell. And let’s all pray that our leaders — in the U.S. and all over the world — make such decisions as will allow all in God’s Church to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” and to do His great Work.

  9. Brian Maxwell

    Mr Smith-

    I applaud your attempt to defend your position and appreciate your respect for my position. But your wordy and somewhat rambling response (by your own admission) was not clear and convincing (the way doctrinal teaching should be), indicating that to go beyond what Paul said invites problems. I will stick with Paul’s own response and believe you/others should also consider this position as well.

  10. Howdy, once more, Mr. Maxwell —

    Thanks for your graciousness (I think!), and I will accept your applause (but no standing ovations, please). Hopefully you actually looked up the verses mentioned and found the clarity that eluded you. I will be more concise:

    Many Protestants and Catholics have dashed themselves on the rocks of “to go beyond what Paul says invites problems” and I choose not to make their mistakes. I will stick with the biblical, proven approach of Isaiah 28:9-10, look at the whole of God’s word on a topic, and not risk having meditated on Paul’s advice too little. Recommend you consider this position as well. 🙂

  11. Craig

    Amazing how two simple requests can become so controversial. Rather than what I would tell the President, it would be better and much more likely that YOU can someday tell the President yourself.

    There was such a magnificent opportunity at the Inauguration that was lost, and may never be repeated again in this end time. With an 80% approval rating, with such a powerful ability to sway people with his rhetoric, and with millions hanging on his every word and example, I WISH he had of stated something (just summarized here) along these lines:

    “I realize that this nation consists of people from every ethnic and religious background. There are Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Christians, agnostics, atheists and others, all listening here today and helping to make this nation great. But you must realize something that I want to make perfectly clear. This great nation was founded on Christian principles. Our money [holding up a dollar bill] says, ‘In God We Trust.’ We MUST get back to our roots, to worship of and obedience to our God!

    “We have morally drifted to the point where we openly despise God and His Commandments. The foundation of this nation lies in Judo-Christian principles. It is God that blessed our founding–not our own abilities. It is God that gave us wealth and prosperity for two hundred years. It is God who gave us our victory in WW II. Our arm is strong because God has blessed us. We need to come to this understanding. We must get back to our roots. I will set the example.

    “Even though this country has within its Constitution the separation of Church and State, I am here to tell you today that I will serve the nation and Constitution of the United States to the best of my ability, as well as serving the Living God who directly had a hand in founding and blessing this nation. I will seek and pray daily for wisdom—-as did Solomon. I invite you to pray for me as well. I will read the Book of the Law as God instructs me to in Deut. 17. All those who wish to follow my lead are invited to do so. For we will NOT turn this nation around WITHOUT His merciful help.”

  12. Mr. Marley, thanks for your observation, as well as your speech. Hopefully, President Obama will find this post while surfing on his newly-approved Blackberry, read your comment, and be inspired to emulate! If so, I will personally drive to Canada and buy you a root beer.

  13. Deano

    Hello Mr. Smith,

    Great questions. My answers will be perhaps not so great.

    1. That God will give wisdom enough to Mr. Obama that he can make decisions that will enable us to finish the Work, according to God’s will.

    2. My advice would get me laghed out of the room. Nevertheless, I would encourage him to take a gander at the Book of Jonah and consider calling a national fast day, as the king of Assryia did, and a turning back to the Great Creator who has so greatly blessed our dying nation. Put the Ten Commandments back up in the schools and other government buildings – if the atheists and perverts don’t like it – they can move! We’ll GIVE them one way passports out! Make the rich help the poor! Not give them everything for nothing, but help them. Help the poor by getting rid of welfare and making them get off their butts and gain some self respect!

    But alas, that Day is to be brought about by another Leader and His kin.

    For what they’re worth, my thoughts.


  14. RB

    One COG publication is doing a thought-provoking series on what a modern-day prophet might advise the new President. Based on what COG’s have taught over the decades, the advice to give seems rather obvious to me:

    a) Realize Acts 4:10-12 means what it says — and accept that.

    b) Tell the other faiths in the “patchwork” they need to do the same, if God is to bless our nation.

    c) Offer the National Saturday Law (as opposed to the “Sunday Law” the SDA’s are so concerned about), to make Sabbath-keeping the only U.S. way to worship. This obviously would require amending the first amendment to do away with “freedom of religion,” but this was done with Prohibition.

    d) Failing that, begin talks with the European Union about a merger — since an E.U. takeover of the U.S. would bring Jesus back faster, as prophesy would be fulfilled. And isn’t that what we all really want?

  15. Pingback: Praying for & advising President Obama, Part 2 « Thoughts En Route

  16. 1) How do you not end up praying help mommy, daddy, doggie and the President? See also #2.

    2) My advise would just follow party lines; stop doing what your are doing and repeal the 16th Amendment.

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