What Should Christians Do About President Biden?

“What Should Christians Do About President Biden?” I hear that question, though perhaps in a less respectful form, regularly. It is more like, “What about Biden?” or “Did you hear what Biden’s done now?”

Most of my friends are Christians who voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and 2020. In conversations about politics I, who did not vote for either of the major candidates, generally find myself on the outside. I sometimes try to reframe, or perhaps enlarge the frame, of such conversations to include God’s plans for the church and the world and Christian responsibility within those plans.

What is that responsibility? What should Christians do about Biden? The biblical answer is that they should pray for him. St. Paul urged “that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone – for kings and all those in authority…” As the Bible scholar Christopher Wright put it, “Paul commands all kinds of prayers for all kinds of rulers.”

How should we pray for rulers like President Biden? We should make requests for him – his health and his relationships, for example. We should pray for him to have wisdom and discernment, protection him from error, and from deceitful people. We should ask God to give him success in every undertaking that promotes justice and the common good.

My friends might say, “But his policies are destroying democracy.” I would counter: He is in authority and Christians are directed to pray for him. Christians were under that same directive when Donald Trump was in office. And Barak Obama. We pray for our leaders, whether we voted for them or not; it is the Christian thing to do. It is worth noting that Paul issued this directive when Nero, the persecutor of Christians, was in power.

In praying for our leaders, we can ask God to give them a “discerning heart to govern … and to distinguish between right and wrong,” as King Solomon prayed for himself. We can pray for God’s good purpose to be advanced through them, which according to the Apostle Paul, is why God “established” them in positions of authority the first place.

We can pray for leaders to have “discernment in administering justice” so that we may live “peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” This is God’s revealed desire for rulers and the people they govern and is thus an important prayer for our country’s leaders.

There is, however, another side to all this, one which my friend’s might enter into more eagerly. We should not only pray for those in authority over us; we should pray against them when that becomes necessary. There is plenty of support for this notion in the Bible.

Christopher Wright describes Psalm 10 and other psalms like it, with their lament and protest, as “prayers in the political realm that God has actually given us in Scripture…” He adds, “I see no contradiction in both praying for our rulers and yet also praying against them.”

Consider what a prayer against our rulers might sound like if we incorporated the language of Isaiah 10: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.” Biblical praying for and against rulers is clearly more nuanced that an anemic and oversimplified prayer for blessing.

But is it really possible to pray for and against our leaders? The Bible gives us an example to follow. The prophet Daniel was exiled to Babylon, where he eventually became a high-ranking government official, seeking “the peace and prosperity” of the land to which he had been deported.

It is obvious from Daniel’s writings that he understood the evil nature of the kingdom he served, and yet his personal communications with the king show that he wished him well and wanted him to prosper. I think there can be no question that Daniel, who was well-known as a man of prayer, both prayed for the king’s good and against his wrongdoing and injustices.

That is an example we should follow.

(Here is a resource about which I have just become aware: The Presidential Prayer Team. It looks pretty good and may be a help for those of us who obey Paul’s command to pray for those in authority. Hope you will check it out.)

(First published by Gannett.)

This entry was posted in Bible, In the News, Prayer, Worldview and Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to What Should Christians Do About President Biden?

  1. Virginia Hager says:

    I read this article in this morning’s newspaper here in Wilmington NC w/ the title in large bold-faced type AND I WAS APPALLED at the “do about” part of the title — it strongly suggests that you oppose Biden and think that ALL Christians should feel a need to do something about him — he is a practicing Catholic Christian, he shows Christ’s love in all that he does. There is no need for Christians to feel they have to DO anything about Biden.
    Your article does contain some helpful suggestions about how to pray for elected officials with whom we disagree and it’s unfortunate that your title doesn’t reflect that.

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  2. Richard Robertson says:

    What should Christians do about Biden; You gave some advice to your readers about praying for leaders. Have you given any thought to the nature of entity you worship? Does He participate in the affairs of mankind? If not, then praying is not useful. If so, under what conditions does he intervene? Is he capricious? Does he, for unknown reasons, grant some requests and not others? Might He not do the right thing unless someone prays for it? Does He not know what you want unless you pray for it? Do numbers count, i.e. if a million vote to help Biden is he more likely to do it than if only 100 do? Is He perfectly just? If so, then He will always do the right thing regardless what we mere mortals ask for. The point is that unless a supreme being is motivated by praise or needs reminding of his duties then praying is a futile act that gives false hope, energy better spent on working with your fellows to resolve the problem. It baffles me that a minister who must know praying for a President has no meaning would suggest it to his flock. Surely you have more to offer like suggesting political activism or reaching out to those with different political views.

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    • Terry Powell says:

      I think a great resource on this topic is “Lex, Rex: The Law and the Prince; a Dispute for the Just Prerogative of King and People” by Samuel Rutherford. The book’s impact on the founding of America is also worth the effort.

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  3. Don Worthington says:

    Your article today 2/27/22 was totally false about president Biden . He has done nothing but show love and respect for all Americans as well as take the needed steps to get us out of the mess that the former president caused. The scientific community estimates that 40 percent of the deaths caused by covid could have been prevented, and yet you still show support for him .

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    • salooper57 says:

      Don,

      Thanks for reading and for your email. I didn’t intend to – and am disturbed by the idea that readers should think I did – say false or unkind things about the president. Quite the opposite: my intention was to arrest those readers who think they need to “do something about Biden” with the biblically supported and orthodox truth that Christians are commanded to pray for those in authority over them. What Christians should do about President Biden – which is what they should have done about presidents Trump, Obama, Bush, etc. – is pray for them.

      I am sorry that I failed to communicate this more clearly. – Shayne

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      • Gary Gold says:

        Seriously? Your writing concludes with “I think there can be no question that Daniel, who was well-known as a man of prayer, both prayed for the king’s good and against his wrongdoing and injustices. That is an example we should follow.” – and in papers or columns that carry your message, the inference is plain to those who read it, but especially the opponents of President Biden. Please, get a few folks to proofread after you who represent both a spectrum of beliefs and are proficient writers. You gave an “at-a-boy” to those who use their religion as a cudgel to use on Mr. Biden for his perceived “wrongdoing and injustices.”

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      • salooper57 says:

        Gary,

        Not my intention – I usually do have a proof reader but am away. My intention was to capture the attention of the people who use religion as a cudgel and show them a different way, not give them an “at-a-boy.” I will endeavor to be more careful.

        Thanks for your comment. – Shayne

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  4. Irreverentkit says:

    This column appeared in my local paper and I found offensive and full of an anti-Catholic bias. Joe Biden is a faithful Catholic Christian who attends mass weekly. Why on earth would he NOT be deserving of prayer? Why would ANYONE, including those enemies Jesus told us to pray for, not be deserving of prayer? I don’t even understand why this is a question.

    But you should apologize to Catholics for sure.

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    • salooper57 says:

      I had no intention – am shaken by the idea – that this column should appear to be anti-Catholic. I did not intend it to be anti-President Biden either. My hope was to catch people’s attention who “want to do something about Biden” and tell them what the Bible says they can do: pray. Pray for him all the time. Pray against him if that should become necessary. But pray.

      I do apologize for writing a column that failed in communicating clearly and caused misunderstanding and offense. For clarity’s sake: I love “the holy catholic church,” including God’s people in the Roman Catholic Church.

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  5. Ron Dehn says:

    This article kept me awake almost one entire night. As Christians we believe that Christ is our guiding light. Several years ago WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) was popular on bracelets, necklaces, and so on. I wish we Christians would continue to ask ourselves WWJD? So – WWJD “about Biden”? He would pray FOR him. I can’t imagine Jesus whose central message was “love one another” praying AGAINST anybody.
    My apologies for coming on too strong because I believe your article was simply in response to the question asked by others. However I truly do not understand why anyone would ask the question and it disturbs me greatly

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    • salooper57 says:

      Ron,
      Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. It seems like you’ve given me the benefit of the doubt and I appreciate it! My hope was that the provocative title would grab the attention of all the folks who have not thought twice about bad-mouthing the president but haven’t thought once about following the biblical directive and praying for him. I apologize for the effect it had on you – that was not at all my intention.
      Shayne

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      • Ron Dehn says:

        Shayne,
        Thanks for your note. I’m sure you are a busy person and it says something about your character to take the time to reply. (Please don’t feel the need to reply to this – I’m simply saying thank you.) I recognize that your intentions are positive and look forward to reading your articles when they appear in my local paper. There are some “hot button” issues that Americans (Christians included) are never going to agree on. My prayer is that Christians will focus on the things we DO agree on and continue to ask ourselves WWJD?
        Happy Easter (a bit early) Shayne.
        Ron

        Like

  6. salooper57 says:

    Thanks so much, Ron, for the encouraging word. A wonderful Easter to you too!

    Like

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