Published 4:38 pm Tuesday, January 28, 2020

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By Scott Baker

Some months ago, I had a parishioner ask me “why are we praying for the president in our Sunday liturgy?” I’m not quite sure what the motivation was that prompted the question. I suspect that praying for a president that the person did not politically agree with was somewhat irksome or distasteful to the person. It might have been prompted due to the fact that prior to my arrival at the parish, they did not regularly pray for our leaders.

In our Sunday liturgy, there comes a point in time where we all pray The Prayers of the People. These are not extemporaneous prayers but orderly and deliberate. In fact, in the Book of Common Prayer, the directions (called rubrics) direct us to pray for specific things in our corporate worship. In addition to the universal church and those that suffer, we are instructed to offer prayer for “The Nation and all in authority.” Regardless if we politically align with whoever inhabits 1600 Pennsylvania avenue, the very fact that the person is the leader of our nation seems to me to be reason enough to warrant our prayers. Whoever the person is, they are going to need all the prayers they can get in order to do the best job they possibly can do — on behalf of all of the citizens.

Over the past several months, especially since the impeachment process began, I have particularly held the president in my prayers both privately and corporately. In addition to him, I have prayed for our members of Congress. Not only do I not agree with most of the things the current president is doing (and how he is doing them) I have a hard time conjuring any positive feelings about him at all. However, regardless of my own personal views, I want him to do well, so that we all do well. I pray for the president because I have hope in the power of God to bring about amazing things even through flawed vessels. I pray for the president, because my own personal feelings notwithstanding, I can imagine going through such a rigorous ordeal like an impeachment must strain even the toughest among us. We not only pray for our president, but as the rubrics direct, we pray for all in authority. We pray for Ralph [Northam] our governor, and Frank [Rabil] our mayor. We pray for the leaders because the prospect of shouldering such responsibility without prayer would be all the more frightening.

I admit, I have a hard time with Donald Trump. However, if past patterns are any indication, when I have prayed for a person I had negative feelings about, I have found that my heart softens over time for them. It seems to me that may be the true miracle we are all looking for, that our hearts soften for each other and we approach one another with a spirit of forbearance and gentleness.

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.