Presidents Day: What We Know for Sure

“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.  Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation.  This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.”

I Timothy 2:1-3, The Message

 As Christians and as leaders, most of us are very committed to knowing and doing the will of God—or at least we should be! The truth is, a good portion of God’s will has already been revealed and doesn’t require any further discernment at all.  We know it is God’s will for us to love one another, forgive one another, bear with one another, and speak the truth in love.  We also know we are to care for the poor, seek justice, and visit the sick and imprisoned for “when you do it unto the least of these, you do it unto me”—that is, Christ himself.

There is another aspect of the revealed will of God that is very clear and pertinent to us today: we are to pray for those in leadership, with particular attention to those who rule our nations. And we’re supposed to be doing it a lot.  On this Presidents Day, we have a unique opportunity to do God’s will together by praying for our President and others who are involved in leading our country. For our friends in countries other than the U.S., you can use this as an opportunity to pray for your leaders as well for this is God’s will for us on any day. With gratitude and humility, with care and concern, with high hopes or dark doubts, let us join together in praying specifically for our highest level leaders–presidents, kings, queens, prime ministers, etc.

Let us also pray for our governmental bodies, those who provide the checks and balances of mutually influencing relationships.  Pray alone.  Grab a few friends or colleagues and pray together over lunch. Pray around your dinner table tonight or with your spouse before bed.  Forward this e-mail to your friends and encourage them to join with Christians around the world in doing God’s will today.

The point is—don’t just think about praying.  Don’t just pontificate about the issues that need prayer or whatever you think is right or wrong about our current situation.  Today just make it a point to actually pray on Presidents Day.  Whether you love our president or not…whether you agree with his policies and positions or disagree…whether you feel hope for our country or despair…the one thing we know for sure is that we are to pray for our president and for those who lead with him.

So let’s do it! Let us pursue God’s will together by praying for our president today.  Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.


Prayers of Intercession on Presidents Day, 2014

[If you are praying with a group, the leader can read the prayers written in lower case, and then allow a moment of silence for quiet affirmation.  The leader then closes that section by saying Lord, in your mercy…and the group agrees together by saying the words in caps–HEAR OUR PRAYER. You may also wish to alternate readers and simply have people take turns reading each section.]


Sovereign God, in obedience to Your Word, we join together this Presidents Day with one heart and one mind in prayer and intercession for our president, Barack Obama. (Silence)
Lord, in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

We ask that, in Your great mercy, You would grant our president exceeding wisdom in these crucial days. Give him a spirit of wisdom and knowledge of Yourself this day. (Silence)
Lord in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

We ask that his eyes might be enlightened and that he may know what is the hope of his calling, the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and the exceeding greatness of Your power to all who believe—including him. (Silence)
Lord in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

We ask that the fear of the Lord would rest upon this administration, that Your sovereign hand would guide the president and his cabinet in all their negotiations. We pray for YOUR purposes to be furthered, for YOUR plan to be accomplished, for YOUR strategies and YOUR wisdom to prevail. (Silence)
Lord in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

We pray for a visitation of your Spirit in the president’s night hours and for a revelation of your Presence in his waking hours… that as he endures the pressures and challenges of his office, he would be driven to trust in You as his mighty fortress, he would find refuge and comfort under Your wings, and he would seek Your face before he seeks human wisdom. (Silence)
Lord, in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Lord God, you have placed upon the president’s shoulders a mantle of leadership. By your Holy Spirit, give him the discernment to recognize and resist evil. Grant him the courage to lead with justice and the grace to rule under God.  May he know Your heart and Your mind regarding the important issues of our day. (Silence)
Lord, in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

Holy One, as members of the body of Christ, we commit ourselves to continue lifting him up in prayer faithfully and fervently. May we consistently petition heaven on our president’s behalf and may we also petition our president on YOUR behalf.

[Here, a longer silence may be observed with an invitation to spoken prayers and petitions.]
Lord, in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER. 

Lord Jesus Christ, we ask for divine protection and blessing over our president’s family, his marriage and his physical life. Preserve him from being cut off prematurely; protect him and his family from sinister schemes. May he run the race that that is laid out for him in this time and in this place, looking to you as the author and finisher of his faith. (Silence)
Lord, in your mercy…HEAR OUR PRAYER.

©Ruth Haley Barton. 2014. Not to be reproduced without permission. 

Ruth Haley Barton (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is founder of the Transforming Center. A teacher, spiritual director, and retreat leader, she is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Pursuing God’s Will Together, Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, and Invitation to Solitude and Silence.

Ruth Haley Barton

Ruth (Doctor of Divinity, Northern Seminary) is Founder and Chief Essence Officer of the Transforming Center. A teacher, seasoned spiritual director (Shalem Institute), and retreat leader, Ruth is the author of numerous books and resources on the spiritual life including Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, Sacred Rhythms, Life Together in Christ, Pursuing God’s Will Together, Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Invitation to Retreat, and Embracing Rhythms of Work and Rest (Oct 2022).
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Thank you for so eloquently putting into words petitions for our president.

Ruth, thank you for the reminder that President Obama is still the elected president of the country in which I am blessed to live. While I do not agree with many of his policies and disturbed by some of them, your call to pray for him, his family, and his administration without reservation is my Christian duty and privilege. He also deserves the respect of his office. He is my president whether I voted for him or not.

Thank you all for your gracious and loving “yes” to the invitation to pray for our president. We were on retreat with Transforming Community 9 on Presidents Day so 85 of us as leaders had the opportunity to pray these prayers together. It was very moving…for me, anyway. My experience in working with these prayers and then getting to actually pray them with others was that 1–they gave us a way to bring our shared concerns to God, which is where they belong anyway, and then 2–they carried us to an even deeper place of care and compassion, love and regard for another human being on whom God has placed a mantle of leadership. It was stirring–transforming, even!–to obey God like that together and know that brothers and sisters around the world were joining with us. Thanks for entering so deeply into this essential Christian practice.

As one who was part of that group I affirm and confirm that that is exactly what it did! It raised us to the bar of Scripture and in doing so opened up my heart to more compassion and mercy for him. Thanks for taking God at His Word and helping us to do the same.

This was excellent. Humbling. Thank you! I posted it to our Facebook page here:

Such a good reminder of our g
God appointed duty to pray for our leaders. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for a very timely reminder. The proliferation of talk shows that encourage criticism as a way of life makes your reminder so very timely. Lord hear our prayer.


Absolutely beautiful!!! Thank you for teaching me a beautiful way to pray today.

Thank you for show us how to truly intercede for another person! I am sending this to many today.

Thank you. Ruth is on retreat today with a groups of pastors and leaders. She revised their prayers when she realized that they would be praying together on this day and wanted to share them with our eReflections community. Thanks for sharing them with others. She will be very encouraged.

Ruth, Thank You for taking politics out of Scripture and adhering to God’s word in such a wise and gentle manner.

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