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whitehouse619pxhedimgThis will be short, I promise. There are only two parts to this post: a prayer and plea.

First, the prayer. It’s what I put on my blog the day after election day in 2012.

Our good, gracious, and sovereign God, we pray for the the President of the United States.

Grant him wisdom, courage, and integrity as a man and as a leader.

Keep him faithful, kind, and loving as a husband and father.

Give him a heart for the poor, concern for the powerless, and compassion for the weak.

Put before him the best information and the most intelligent counselors so he can make good decisions about economic policy and judicial appointments.

May he be guided by both courage and restraint as he commands our armed forces.

Make him a defender of the unborn, a protector of marriage, and a champion for religious liberty.

Make him a man of prayer and a daily student of the Scriptures.

Give him humility to admit his faults, forgive his enemies, and change his mind.

Lead him to a firm understanding of the truth of the gospel, a resolute commitment to obey the Word of God, and a passion to promote what accords with your truth.

By your grace, heavenly Father, may our President be a better man than so many expect and a better man than we deserve.

In the name of Jesus our Lord, let it be.

Nothing terribly controversial in that prayer, at least not for evangelical Christians. (Yes, this prayer assumes the president is a man, because that’s what the options were on election day in 2012. But let’s take the gender issue off the table for the moment.) If I’m not mistaken, everything in the prayer above is pretty standard. If you are a serious, Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-is-coming-back, you-need-to-be-born-again, orthodox Christian, don’t you agree it’s a good idea to pray that our president be faithful, kind, humble, wise, and compassionate? I hope every evangelical Christian reading this blog can say, “Yes, I pray for those things too.”

So here’s my plea: then vote for those things. If at all possible, the candidates we endorse should not be light years away from the prayers we pray. Is there more to being an effective President of the United States than what I’ve captured in these ten petitions? Of course. But if the Lord answered our prayers and gave us a president who checked all these boxes, we’d have a president we can trust, a president we can respect, a president for whom we can give abundant thanks. If you agree with a prayer like this, look for a candidate who most readily and genuinely, as best as we can fallibly discern, embodies the things we are praying for. If evangelical Christians pray for one thing and vote for another, we’ve either lost our sense for what really matters or we’ve become too cynical to care.

Pray first. Then vote. And make sure the two are related.

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16 thoughts on “A Prayer and a Plea”

  1. a. says:

    Pray first. Then vote. And make sure the two are related.

    thank you, and reminder -no less important to pray for/vote all elections and for all levels of government – presidential year turnout is not great ~ 50% but off-year even worse – latest,the lowest in 70 years ~37%

    1 Timothy 2: A Call to Prayer 1 First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, 2 for kings and all who are in authority

  2. Greg says:

    So, Jimmy Carter then? :)

    You have a point, but sometimes, things aren’t what they seem. Samson wouldn’t make a good elder, but he’s awfully handy when the Philistines are out of control.

  3. Floyd says:

    Amen, brother Kevin. Your prayer includes both the inner and outer man. Jesus taught us that out of the heart comes those acts and behaviors that define our lives. If the heart believes in abortion on demand and gay marriage, then actions will follow to destruction. We are called to be wise as serpents but gentle as doves.

  4. Curt Day says:

    I understand the sentiments of this prayer; but since we are talking about an elected official of the government, we should be able to distinguish what makes one righteous in the eyes of God from what makes one righteous in the public square. And once we understand those differences, we could change some lines or add some additional lines to the prayer above.

    Also, though I agree with the pro-life concern, it can’t be limited to the unborn. Opposing abortion while supporting economic systems or military actions that either degrade or terminate does not make one pro-life.

    Also, we have to ask whether some of us are really praying for religious liberty when we oppose same-sex marriage in society. Why? It’s because not all agree with our (religiously conservative Christian) definition of marriage. And some those who disagree do so because their religion leads them to believe something else. Thus praying for a leader to work toward legally defining marriage according to the Bible violates the religious liberties of those who want to participate in same-sex marriage.

  5. Edwin C says:

    One huge problem is that Evangelical Christians in BOTH parties don’t get involved early enough in the process. By the time the General elections roll around, the quality of the available candidates in the two major parties is already diluted by deep compromises. We should insist on quality people, whatever their political stripe, running for these powerful offices. Even though my politics leans conservative, I would be very happy to vote for an honest liberal with evident character. However, I see very little character in any of the people who seem to want to be President…or even dogcatcher.

  6. Floyd says:

    Just pray and leave the rest to God.

  7. Bobbi Brown says:

    I will pray this prayer and then vote– most likely for the same person Kevin will vote for. The outcome will be determined by the Lord–Proverbs 16:33 The lot is cast into the lap,
    But its every decision is from the Lord.

  8. Ben M says:

    Curt Day, I appreciate your point about pro-life and I agree with you completely, but you seemed to miss that Pastor DeYoung did cover your broader definition of Pro-Life in his prayer with “Give him a heart for the poor” and “May he be guided by courage and restraint.”

    I should also point out that there is far more to religious liberty than opposing gay marriage. If our churches were burned down and church-goers imprisoned, but we still could oppose gay marriage without consequence, it wouldn’t do us much good. It is certainly something to be thankful for that we have religious liberty that is only mildly threatened when Christians in some countries endure the very things I mentioned, and it is worth praying for its continuance.

    Personally, I see 1 (maybe 2) people in the entire field that fits the description above, and I intend to vote for him no matter how low he may be in the polls. Prayer that all Christians will do likewise.

  9. Curt Day says:

    I did overlook the ‘heart for the poor’ line, the wife will tell you that overlooking things is a talent of mine. Thank you for bringing that to my attention. But a heart for the poor means more than just directly helping the poor or donating money. According to Martin Luther King Jr., it also means changing the system that creates so many who are poor. It means redoing the road to Jericho, using the Good Samaritan parable’s reference, so that fewer people are left beaten and robbed So a heart for the poor means working for social justice as much as it means giving and helping those who are vulnerable.

    But there is a flip side to that; working for Social Justice also means calling those with wealth and power to repentance for their sake. The consolidation of wealth and the abuse of power is a major contributor to wealth disparity, poverty, and war. And those who neglect or even exploit the vulnerable for gain need to hear a call to repentance.

    In addition, it’s not that we oppose same-sex marriage that is the issue; it is how we oppose it. And part of how we oppose is governed by how we choose to share society with others. If we choose to share society while seeking privileged for ourselves, we will be violating their religious freedom, not ours. At that point we will ba talking about religious privilege rather than religious freedom.

    Personally, I see no one from the two major political parties who offers the complete package. And I refuse to back those who receive superpac money. So I will be supporting candidates from leftist third parties. And perhaps we will get a chance to share specifics on why we are supporting whom.

    Again, thank you for your note.

  10. Stacey says:

    Bingo, Greg. Does sound a lot like Jimmy. Samson wouldn’t stand a chance with most evangelicals today – neither would David, for that matter. But both were God’s men for the hour.

  11. Floyd says:

    Each person should prepare one’s own prayer list and begin praying that daily. Let us then not argue about the contents of other people’s prayers or who is righteous enough, good enough, ideological enough, knowledgeable enough, or worthy enough. If a person does not like the petitions or contents in this prayer or for whom and what these petitions are for, then one has the liberty to create petitions of one’s own.

    Remember Paul’s plea, “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

    According to Paul, all of us are in a deficit and debtors when it comes to praying, We are not adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

  12. Neville Briggs says:

    The comment by “a” above mentions Paul’s counsel to Timothy to pray for all people including the kings and rulers and those in authority.
    The motive that Paul gives for praying for the leaders is that we ( presumably the church ) might lead quiet and peaceful lives. Paul didn’t seem to be concerned about economic policies or
    the character of the rulers.
    It might be interesting to note that the rulers and authorities that Timothy was asked to pray for were the Herodians, the Roman provincial governors and the Roman Emperor Nero. I don’t think any of them would make it to a character list like Mr De Young’s list.

    So what do we make of that, I am not sure.
    Maybe just to be careful about what assumptions we bring to prayer that addresses God’s sovereign plan for the nations.

  13. What strikes me and saddens me is that none of this prayer has been answered.

  14. Kris says:

    If in four years you are still too busy to update your pronouns let me know and I can do that for you.

  15. Ben M says:


    Thanks for your reply.

    You make a lot of good points and I can’t say that I disagree with you. The only thing that I might add is that such a just society can only be found when Christ makes all things new and sits as king over all the earth. Although, that’s not to be used as an excuse for inaction by any means. Just as we as individuals strive for perfection in this life, but never quite attain it until the next, so we as a body and as a larger society ought to also strive. In all our striving, however, it is fruitless unless we keep Christ always before our eyes.

    You are probably right about the two major parties also, but my hope is to at least try to push one in a better direction. Although, the ground seems to be shrinking beneath my feet in that regard. But I put my hope in God who turns the heart of the king as he pleases.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  16. Kristen says:

    This is so important. This prayer and plea stems directly from the Bible. 1 Timothy 2:1-3 says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people-for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior…” As DeYoung wrote about, unfortunately, too often this is the prayer of the Christian, but somehow, there is a failure to follow through with action. If we want God to fulfill this prayer, then we must do something about it. The church, the Christian people, are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. That means we need to be active in creating a Godly environment in our country, and this starts with our government. Also, my concern is that Christians tend to feel like the country is “just too far gone” as far as Christian values and beliefs go. This is a reason that some use in a lack of care in politics and other important controversial issues. It is important to remember this is never the case until God says so. That is not our decision to make. God told us to continue moving towards Him until He comes back. We are not to give up. We are to continue doing what God has us here for.

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Kevin DeYoung

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. He is chairman of the board of The Gospel Coalition, assistant professor of systematic theology at Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte), and a PhD candidate at the University of Leicester. Kevin and his wife, Trisha, have seven children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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