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Baptists lay hands on President

PRAYING FOR PREZ — Evangelical leaders who are part of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Faith Leaders Initiative lay hands on the President July 10 as they pray for him in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (BP photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore)

Story:

WASHINGTON (BP and local reports) – Participants in an impromptu prayer meeting that broke out July 10 in the Oval Office of U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., have described the experience as keeping with Scripture’s command to pray for government leaders.

Members of the mainstream news media, however, criticized the gathering and at least one cable reporter termed as “very strange” the laying of hands on the president during a prayer for his leadership and safety.

According to news media reports, some 30 evangelical leaders were involved in the meeting.

“I prayed for protection for the president and vice president as well as their families,” said Ronnie Floyd, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention and senior pastor of multi-campus Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, in written comments to Baptist Press (BP).

“I asked God to provide for them His wisdom in all decision-making, helping them to see things like God sees them. I then appealed to God to lead them forward into the future as our
leaders, giving them His favor, and then I appealed to God to bring our nation together.

“Finally, I asked God to usher into our country a great sense of urgency, helping us to see that our greatest need as a nation is a spiritual movement of God,” said Floyd, adding the experience was “quite humbling,” Floyd said.

News of the prayer meeting went interntional last week when some participants posted photos on social media. The time of prayer capped a 15- to 20-minute visit with Trump at the end of a day-long meeting of the White House’s Faith Leaders Initiative.

Jack Graham, another former SBC president and pastor of Prestonwood Church in Plano, Texas, who also attended the Oval Office meeting, described the Initiative as an informal working group that advises the White House on issues of importance to evangelicals.

Graham said the July 10 meeting of the Faith Leaders Initiative was convened by the White House Office of Public Liaison to offer counsel from participants on issues ranging from religious liberty and the sanctity of life to U.S. relations with Israel.

Some national news media personalities were not impressed with the prayers for the president, and others were mystified by the laying on of hands.

Before going to a commercial break July 12 on her CNN show, Erin Burnett, host of Erin Burnett Out Front, said, “And next, a pretty stunning image. Let me just give you a quick peek of it. The president bowing his head in prayer in the Oval Office and all these people sort of touching him. It’s very strange. We’re going to tell you what happened there.”

A July 16 article by Cleve R. Wootson Jr., in The Washington Post stated, “Laying hands on someone is a particularly intimate act for Evangelicals, communing with people and with God at the same time… But things start to get dodgy when the practice is brought out of the church and into, well, the Oval Office.”

Floyd urged believers to do daily what the faith leaders were able to do publically in the White House. “We need to rise up in our churches all over America, and Christians by the millions need to rise up and pray for our president, vice president, and the leaders of our nation.’

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