I think Trump is a bad president. Is it right of me to pray for his defeat?
THE RELIGION GUY’S ANSWER:
Let’s turn Brad’s question around. Will it be proper for others to pray for the defeat of the Democrats’ 2020 nominee? Does this change the answer?
The president has provoked the most ferocious pro-and-con political emotions in our lifetimes, so prayers inevitably result. That’s because prayer is a virtually universal phenomenon.
We all know the phrase ‘foxhole religion” about desperate situations. How many hardened unbelievers find themselves offering sincere prayers when their child is in the emergency room? Even under ordinary circumstances, Pew Research polling shows 55 percent of Americans say they pray every day, while an added 21 percent pray regularly but less frequently. Even one-fifth of those without any religious affiliation or identity pray daily!
There are countless accounts of favorable responses to prayer, yet how do we understand the many prayers left unanswered? Why do bad things happen to good people despite their prayers? Why do good things happen to evil people who never pray? What happens when, as with election 2020, people pray simultaneously for opposite results a la President Lincoln on the two sides in the Civil War: “Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other.”
Mysteries abound. A veteran minister’s newsletter says after a “physical breakdown” and full medical testing last year, doctors concluded he was “exhausted by stress and worry.” He indeed faced major difficulties, but the diagnosis surprised him because he was praying so earnestly. He finally realized “I was simply worrying in the presence of God,” which “wore me out.” His health gradually improved after he learned to relax and simply pray for “strength to persevere,” with “peace in the assurance that God has heard me.”
These are among the most complex matters of the human heart, as ancient as the Bible’s Psalms and Book of Job (which provide us no neat formulas).