A Prayer for Inauguration Day

Heavenly Father,

       We acknowledge and honor You as the one who “removes kings and sets up kings” (Daniel 2:21). [1] We worship and give all allegiance to You who are the Sovereign Lord of all creation. We believe that “[Your] kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and [Your] dominion endures from generation to generation” (Daniel 4:3). All earthly rulers have power only to the extent that You grant it to them. We affirm that “the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17). The Apostle Paul taught us that “there is no authority except God, and those that exist have been instituted by God”; therefore, it is a serious thing to “[resist] what God has appointed” (Romans 13:1–2). The Apostle Peter, too, taught us to “be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” and to “honor the emperor” (1 Peter 2:13, 17). 

       Therefore, on this day—a day that seems of so great importance to us, but in the eyes of You, who are eternal, is but a wisp of smoke!—on this day that the United States of America swears its next President into office, we pray that we, the church—comprised of elect exiles, who have their ultimate citizenship in heaven, who have been sovereignly placed in this land by Your hand for such a time as this—we pray that we would indeed submit ourselves to this President and honor him, for the sake of Christ Jesus our Lord—who is no democratically-elected president but is the King of Kings (1 Peter 1:1–2; Philippians 3:20; Acts 17:26; Esther 4:14).    

       We confess that, for many of us in the church, submitting to and honoring this new President will be difficult. We confess that, in our disappointment with the results of this election, we are tempted to question Your wisdom, doubt Your sovereignty, and surrender to despair and anxiety. Moreover, we confess that in our idolatry and unbelief we are prone to “put [our] trust in princes, / in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:3). Lord, to not recognize the God-given authority of this new President on the one hand, or to place our trust in him on the other, are both grievous sins in Your sight. In either case we deny You Your power and authority, give them to man instead, and make him god in Your place. Lord, forgive us these sins.      

        Grant us grace that we would “set [our] hope fully on the grace to be brought to [us] at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” even as we submit to earthly authorities (1 Peter 1:13). Would we remember today, and every day, that “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, / whose hope is in the Lord his God,” and not in man (Psalm 146:5). Help us now to trust and hope in You.

       Lord, we also pray that, even as we submit to and honor this President, our allegiance to him would not be a blind and accommodating allegiance. We are mindful of the saints who have gone before us, who had the courage to preach Your Word to kings and rulers when they were in sin, when they would not submit their subordinate rule to Your sovereign rule. 

       We remember the prophet Daniel, who told King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to“break off [his] sins by practicing righteousness, and [his] iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed” (Daniel 4:27). Daniel and his friends faced the wrath of kings because they feared You more than they feared man. They dared to disobey their rulers when they were commanded to break faith with You—but You delivered them and vindicated them before the watching world. 

       We remember John the Baptist, who preached against King Herod’s sexual immorality, and was imprisoned for it (Mark 6:17–18). Unlike Daniel, You did not deliver him from the wrath of Herod, and John died a martyr’s death (Mark 6:27). His act of obedience to You was a costly one.

       We remember the Apostle Paul, who, during his imprisonment under Felix the governor,  would “speak [to Felix] about faith in Christ Jesus . . . [and reason with him] about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (Acts 24:24-25).

       Would we follow in the example of these godly men and their risky, costly protest, whenever this new President does not honor You as Lord, and commits or condones injustice against his people. Would we not be like the wicked, false prophets of old who, claiming to speak for You, said “‘Peace, peace,’ when there [was] no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14). Would we dare not surrender our prophetic witness in this day and age. Instead, would we have the courage, whenever necessary, to say with Daniel, “Break off your sins” (Daniel 4:27). Would we have the courage, whenever necessary, to say with John, “It is not lawful” (Mark 6:18). Would we have the courage, whenever necessary, to say with Paul that the final judgment is coming (Acts 24:25). 

       Above all, we know that You “[desire] all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” of the gospel (1 Timothy 2:4). This gospel is good news. The bad news is that all have committed treason against You, their Creator, Provider, and Judge, and are destined to face your just wrath at the final judgment. The good news, the gospel of Jesus Christ, is that Christ bore the death sentence for our treason and then rose again to life victorious. Christ is Lord over all. The Apostle Paul writes, 

"God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every other name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." (Philippians 2:9–11).

For all those who acknowledge His lordship now and place their faith in Him for salvation from the wrath of God, Christ offers not only full pardon, but the full rights of citizenship in His kingdom, and the full rights of sons and daughters in the family of God. 

       It is this Christ who stands as Lord and Judge over our new President, holding him infinitely accountable, and who even now stands as Savior, offering him salvation. This is the good news we pray that our President will hear, and heed before it is too late. We pray that the Christians working in his administration, and the other Christians he will encounter throughout his term in office, will continually have the courage to preach the gospel to him. Perhaps through their faithful witness You will grant him faith and repentance leading to salvation.   

       As we pray for this President and his term in office, we remember the words of wisdom King Lemuel received from his mother, found in Proverbs 31. They are words of admonishment meant specifically for a ruler, and so we pray them for our new President: 

       First, we pray that our new President would flee from all the sexual immorality in which the rulers of men are so tempted to indulge. King Lemuel’s mother warned him, “Do not give your strength to women, / your ways to those who destroy kings” (Proverbs 31:3). Indeed, we know from history that sexual immorality has ruined many rulers, and has caused great harm to their families and their peoples. We pray that the same would not happen to our President. We pray that he would treat all women with all honor and respect and the utmost purity, and be faithful to his own wife. 

       Second, we pray that our new President would be self-controlled. King Lemuel’s mother warned, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, / it is not for kings to drink wine, / or for rulers to take strong drink, / lest they drink and forget what has been decreed / and pervert the rights of the afflicted” (Proverbs 31:4–5). Alcohol is not evil in and of itself, but becomes an evil when it impairs sound judgment and causes tempers to flare. Sober-mindedness is more than mere sobriety. Therefore, we pray that our President would be marked by gentleness and self-control, lest he “forget what has been decreed / and pervert the rights of the afflicted.” 

       Third and finally, we pray that our new President would fight for the cause of the marginalized and the afflicted. King Lemuel’s mother exhorted him, “Open your mouth for the mute, / for the rights of those who are destitute. / Open your mouth, judge righteously, / defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8–9). Under this President’s administration, we pray that justice would reign in the land, and that this President would be tireless in his efforts to ensure that all people in this nation—regardless of race, religion, or political affiliation—are treated equitably as they ought to be. 

       Heavenly Father, you have called us to make “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings . . . for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way” (1 Timothy 2:1–2). For this reason we pray today. May we continue to pray in this way every day of this President’s term. We pray that we would honor and submit to him. We pray that, even so, we would not put our trust and hope in him but in You. We pray that we would speak the truth boldly to him, regardless of what the consequences may be. We pray that the President would come to a saving knowledge of You, and would live a life of purity, self-control, and justice. We pray that he would know what you require of him: “to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with [his] God” (Micah 6:8). We pray that we would do the same, by Your grace, as You “[work] in us that which is pleasing in [Your] sight” (Hebrews 13:21). 

       In these days would America see in your people, the church, a Christ-exalting godliness marked by honorable conduct, good deeds, humble service, and honor and love toward all, so that many would glorify You on the day You return to judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 2:12, 16–17). In this hope we live, that You are returning soon. In the meantime, may we declare Your excellencies to the watching world (1 Peter 2:9).

       We pray all these things in the name of Christ the Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to the glory of God the Father,

       Amen.  

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Notes

  1. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.