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Pray for the President? Yes thou shalt.
A Christian group organizes prayer for public officials including the president. Image from their website www.presidentialprayerteam.com
October 14th, 2011
09:04 AM ET

Pray for the President? Yes thou shalt.

By Dave Schechter, CNN

(CNN) -
Republican presidential contender Rick Perry recently urged social conservatives to pray for President Barack Obama.

“As I campaign for president, I not only ask you for your vote and your support, I ask for your prayers. I ask you to pray for our country. I ask you to pray for our president to give him wisdom, to open his eyes,” the Texas Governor told an audience in Florida last month.

Doing just that is the stated mission of the Presidential Prayer Team.

Conceived in November 2000 in an adult Sunday school class in Scottsdale, Arizona, the PPT – or “The Prayer Team,” as it calls itself – takes its charge from the words of the Apostle Paul to his disciple Timothy: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. (1 Timothy 2:1-2)

“We believe prayer is the most important power in this entire world,” PPT president Jim Bolthouse tells CNN. The idea is simple: prayer moves God and God moves the leaders.

PPT members are charged to pray for their leaders, even if they don’t care for the individual or disagree with their policies. “We don’t necessarily agree with everything our President is doing, but that doesn’t stop us from praying for our President. That is a mandate,” Bolthouse says.

The PPT is a Christian enterprise. Prayers are offered “in Jesus’ name,” but Bolthouse notes that calls to pray for leaders can be found in the Old and New Testaments. Because of the range of beliefs within Christianity, the PPT tries to avoid denominational conflicts.

The original goal was to persuade one percent of the American population (at the time, roughly 2.8 million people) to pray for the president. The campaign was set to launch in November 2001 but the date was pushed up after the September 11 terrorist attacks. In March 2009 the PPT claimed 1.7 million members worldwide.
Today, 3.7 million people “have been served,” according to Bolthouse, a veteran of the computer industry, who played a key role in setting up the PPT’s technical operation at the beginning and became its president (a part-time position) in March 2010.

The $30,000 a month it costs to finance the PPT comes from individual donations. There is no charge to be a member; in fact, fewer than 1 percent of PPT members make a financial contribution, though there are 1,000-2,000 people who donate on average $45-55 monthly, Bolthouse says. These donors, he says, are people who “see the value in what prayer means for our country.” Finances are among the subjects discussed when the small staff gathers for its regular Monday morning prayers.

Most of the communication with members is by e-mail. A daily devotional is sent to some 38,000 members who have signed up for that service. The major weekly e-mail, covering a variety of topics, goes to about 580,000 people. E-mails include suggestions on topics worthy of prayer, “as the Lord moves you,” Bolthouse says.

Since its founding, the PPT has expanded its scope with prayers for Cabinet secretaries, congressional leaders, Supreme Court justices, the U.S. armed forces and even the first lady, Michele Obama. Suggestions are made for prayers on topics in the news, including the economy, relations between Israel and the Palestinians and the health care reform law advocated by the Obama administration.

“We’re taking a much more far-reaching stand in praying for our country, beyond just praying for our President,” Bolthouse says.

The PPT can be timely in its call for prayers. The January shootings in Tucson, Arizona, in which six people were killed and Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was one of 19 people wounded, happened just eight miles from PPT’s offices. Bolthouse says that the website began offering prayers – not only for those shot, but also for the emergency response and medical personnel involved – within 30 minutes of the incident, even before much of the news media had reported the news.

As for President Obama, Bolthouse says that it has taken effort to convince some PPT members that it is proper to pray for the current president, given their opposition to his policies, some of which he says are “in conflict with biblical principles.” Gay rights and abortion are two such issues, Bolthouse says, explaining, “These are not gray areas in the Scriptures,” he says.

PPT members are “asking God more for his divine intervention in Mr. Obama’s life than in Mr. Bush’s,” Bolthouse says, referring to President George W. Bush.

Bolthouse admits to being personally “cautious” when it comes to the President’s own assertions that he is a Christian, but Scriptures he says, counsel against passing judgment.

President Obama discussed the role of prayer in public policy debates when he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2010.

“Surely we can agree to find common ground when possible, parting ways when necessary,” he said. “But in doing so, let us be guided by our faith, and by prayer. For while prayer can buck us up when we are down, keep us calm in a storm; while prayer can stiffen our spines to surmount an obstacle – and I assure you I’m praying a lot these days – prayer can also do something else. It can touch our hearts with humility. It can fill us with a spirit of brotherhood. It can remind us that each of are children of a awesome and loving God.”

Obama has reaffirmed his Christian faith many times, including in a January 2008 interview with Christianity Today.“I am a Christian, and I am a devout Christian,” he said.I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that that faith gives me a path to be cleansed of sin and have eternal life. But most importantly, I believe in the example that Jesus set by feeding the hungry and healing the sick and always prioritizing the least of these over the powerful.

A poll conducted in July-August 2010 for the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press offered evidence of the public confusion about the President’s religion. In the survey of more than 3,000 adult Americans, 18 percent identified the President as a Muslim, up from 11 percent in March 2009. About one-third (34 percent) said he is a Christian, down from 48 percent the year earlier. Forty-three percent said they did not know.

As for those who would like to succeed President Obama in the Oval Office, when the PPT website posted a column about the Republicans seeking the presidential nomination, the comments that followed included discussion – and warnings – about the degree to which individual candidates are worthy of being called Christian. That Republican presidential hopefuls Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman are Mormons is just one aspect of that debate.

The PPT website features a prayer wall on which participants offer prayers on a variety of subjects, sometimes on topics known to spark arguments and debate, such as same-sex marriage and the military’s recently-rescinded “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” regulations. There also is a page dedicated to “Morality in America.”

And coming in November from the PPT, one year before the 2012 elections, will be “Pray the Vote,” a project to provide to prayers for candidates at all levels, from the office of President to state legislators. The site will analyze where candidates stand on 10 “value points” identified by PPT members as being of particular interest.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Barack Obama • Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Politics • Prayer

soundoff (632 Responses)
  1. Debbie

    I am a Christian and I do not want government in my religion and I don't want religion in my government. If leaders of various faiths want to teach their followers to pray for our world leaders that is fine. I don't want world leaders to be teaching leaders of various faiths what to teach their followers. To bring politics into religion is selling your Creator to the highest bidder for votes.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Debbie
      Exactly!
      Bringing God into the political realm cheapens both faith and democracy.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Jake

      Faith is already as cheap as it gets!

      October 14, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  2. firebird9999

    Ugh. Yecccch! Keep your prayers and your religion to yourself. This whole "christian" thing is just one big bad horrible joke.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  3. REG in AZ

    They really have no end to how far they will go and no conscience either. Whatever they think will get them a vote they don't hesitate to say / do, without even a hint of guilt. Disgusting but tell-tale as to what to expect from them. Here we have another GWBush who was sold as a "born again Christian" yet who was a classic, text book sociopath and as such, totally without a conscience. Do they really think the public is all that gullible? I guess they do as they keep coming up with this stuff ... and that is totally insulting, as they take the people for granted.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  4. Mikaz

    We should pray for Obama. He seems to be the lone voice of reason and compromise.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  5. MINE IS AN EVIL LAUGH

    WASH: This is a Fertile land and we will thrive...
    WASH (as stegosaurus): We will rule over all this land, and we will call it... This Land.
    WASH (as T-Rex): I think we should call it... your grave!
    WASH (as stegosaurus): Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal!
    WASH (as T-Rex): Ha HA! Mine is an evil laugh! Now die!

    October 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • tallulah13

      I love Wash more than you will ever know.

      October 15, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  6. texas pete

    WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HAH I SAY FRY THE BASs TARD! FORGET PRAYERS, THEY ONLY WORK FOR QUE ERS...BEER, AN ELECTERIC CHAIR AND SOME GUNS.... WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE HAH!

    now wheres my pick-up truck?

    October 14, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
  7. Jacob

    I see the burning bush! Oh wait, that's just the Texas wildfires!

    October 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Is it George or Jeb that's burning?
      You might want to get the garden hose – "stop drop and roll" might be too complex for them.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
  8. Colin

    As an atheist, few things are more enjoyable than denying the Christian god on a plane. Mosy planes have internet connections now, and it is fun watching the Christians around you as you send comments (often on this site) about their god not existing. It is especially fun when turbulance kicks in and the flights get a little frightening.

    I actually had one Jesus nut ask me to stop it, as she was worried god was punishing me with the bumpy flight and might bring down the plane. I explained to her (i) that he is supposedly omnipotent, and would not have to wait until I was at 33,000 feet to smite me; and (ii) if he was loving, he need only send me a quick heart attack so as to avoid the "friendly fire" bringing down the plane would entail.

    It didn't help though. I actually stopped, as the poor supersti.tous simpleton was truly frightened.

    BTW, let me repeat Wiliam Demuth's challange. Please, all Christians out there, pray for my immediate death, so I can mock you tomorrow. I am about to fly again today, so have at it......

    October 14, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • MINE IS AN EVIL LAUGH

      thats good stuff... i have to try that on plane next time.

      oh right... muhahahahahahahaha :)

      October 14, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • J.W

      If she was truly faithful she would not have worried. It should not have mattered to her what you said. She should have just prayed and then relaxed for the rest of the flight.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      Colin they can't pray for your death, remember thou shalt not kill. ;-) I think they should pray you get the flu instead, the chances are greater that you'll get that one regardless but then they can claim it's a miracle even though we know that wouldn't be the case. LOL. Unless you were smart and got your flu shot already. LMAO!

      October 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
    • GoGet'em

      Colin,

      They read over your shoulder as you type?! Yoiks!

      You are a scamp! ;)

      October 14, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • HellBent

      @Ok'yDok'y

      I think Colin has a loop hole with the whole "thou shalt not kill" thing since those that are praying wouldn't be doing the killing – they'd just be asking god to.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "I think Colin has a loop hole with the whole "thou shalt not kill" thing since those that are praying wouldn't be doing the killing – they'd just be asking god to."

      I was trying to make a joke...guess it didn't go over well. Cha – Chang....

      October 14, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Wise [men] lay up knowledge: but the mouth of the foolish [is] near destruction.

      Proverbs 10:14

      True today as it was written thousands of years ago (LOL).

      Amen.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • proud of my faith

      Colin,
      I won't be praying for your death... However, I will pray that you find the Father and you eventually give Him your heart. I will also pray for your flight and that its safe (:

      October 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Colin

      I am sorry to announce that the original Colin is...well.....dead. I am taking over his username just as the five other Colins that came before me has.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • HellBent

      @Ok, I was trying to run with the joke, but I guess like an overpriced, overrated, whiny third baseman ... swing and a miss.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "@Ok, I was trying to run with the joke, but I guess like an overpriced, overrated, whiny third baseman ... swing and a miss."

      Now I am laughing. ;-D

      October 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Scott - 1

      HS
      "do not let any of the sacrifice from the Passover Festival remain until morning" EXodus 34 25
      Just as true now as it was thousands of years ago.

      and If you think this is weird just becuase it's out of context, go read the whole weird chapter.

      October 14, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  9. MINE IS AN EVIL LAUGH

    MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA MAY THE PRES BE HAPPY AND BETTER THEN BUSH. HOWS THAT FOR A PRAYER HUH!

    October 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  10. SearchingForAnAtheistExtremist

    @Doc: I'm completely with you; CaptainAmerica is obnoxious...but could you still please take back the Wonderbra? That was really a bit much...

    October 14, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  11. myself

    I'm praying, too! Praying that Congress will stop stalling on the Jobs Bill. You bring everything in to vote on but the kitchen sink. Vote on the Jobs Bill!!! Why don't you care more about the people! The people put you into these postions, and the people can vote you out! Congress republicians get there heads together and talk the same talk no matter where they are. No jobs, no taxes, no public services workers of any kind!!

    The people did not vote for this type of change in 2010. Just remember we are coming back to vote, and it will be stronger than ever. Keep trying to send a message to the people they need voter ID, or they need marriage license, or they need purple shoes, etc... We the people are not stupid!!! Vote on the Jobs Bill!!

    October 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Jim

      Unfortunately, the Republicans are holding the economy and American citizens hostage because they won't vote on anything that would successful for President Obama. They are so set on getting a Republican in the White House that they are willing to sacrifice the country to do it. They see to think that doing nothing will get them into the White House. Leadership gets you in. Sitting on your hands doesn't.

      October 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  12. Thomas

    Texas Executed Todd Willingham an Innocent Person. Dear Rick Perry: We have not forgotten what you did. We will pray for your soul !

    “We believe prayer is the most important power in this entire world,” PPT president Jim Bolthouse tells CNN. The idea is simple: prayer moves God and God moves the leaders.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  13. Rev. Rick

    More rhetoric and pandering to the conservative right on the part of Perry.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  14. Bo

    @sassysaint n See what I'm saying; see MarkinFl's 12:00 post, he is already making excuses, and there hasn't even been a miracle preformed! Without knowing it, athests have chosen to be agents of that old serpent and devil called Satan, and he, Satan, is laughing his head off. Satan doesn't even have to work for these souls, they are clueless and willing subjects.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Ok'yDok'y

      "Satan doesn't even have to work for these souls, they are clueless and willing subjects."

      What proof do you have satan exists? How do you know he's laughing?

      October 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I think it would be easier to prove satan exists than god. Look around you. Watch the news. Watch as a 'true' christian moves their lips. The evidence is all around you.

      October 14, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      I merely noted that the "test" was quite inadequate to prove the existence of a god. Setting up a test that proves nothing does just that.
      The excuses keep coming from the believers. i.e. If god reveals himself it ruins the whole "test" each soul must endure to prove itself worthy, or some other utter nonsense. Believers have to make "Faith without proof" a requirement since that is all that has been proven to exist.

      October 14, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
  15. Reality

    Agaom a prayer for the Republicans and all other Christians:

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
    Jerusalem.

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
    and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    Amen

    October 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Reality

      AGAIN a prayer for the Republicans and all other Christians:

      The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly and based on the studies of historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

      Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
      and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
      human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven??

      I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
      preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
      named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
      girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

      Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
      the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

      He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
      a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of
      Jerusalem.

      Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
      many semi-fiction writers. A descent into Hell, a bodily resurrection
      and ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
      Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
      grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
      and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
      called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

      Amen

      October 14, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      @Reality – what's up brother? I find it curious that someone tracks your every post and says
      ".........hit report abuse on all reality copy paste" all of the time. Somebody has waaay to much time on their hands.

      October 14, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • Hasa Diga Eebowai

      Reality: repeat perhaps.. nonsense FAR from it.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Herbie-The-Hate-Bug is at it again. Reality makes him quiver with fear because 'reality' hurts and that is the only reason Herbie hides behind his posts and demands Reality's be reported.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  16. dennis freeman

    You have to be kidding...stupidity gets redefined everyday.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  17. Nonimus

    Just a thought, but if prayer really worked wouldn't these people be charged with vote rigging?

    October 14, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  18. Bob S Philadelphia , Pa

    I'll pray I'll pray that he isn't re-elected this country can't afford to have NOBAMA as KING ooppss I mean president another 4 years

    October 14, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Based on what? The fact that he went in and had to pick up the pieces from a republican piece of crap is not his fault. He is trying and yes he is making some mistakes but if the republicans get in, the country will go down the sh!tter in a heart beat.

      October 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  19. woman

    I'm praying for the leaders of this country to stop worrying about their own jobs and start doing something about the jobs of the citizens. While we're in this economic crisis, what are the House Republicans voting on? Jobs? No! The debt crisis? No! Wall Street's greedy millionaires? No! Instead they're trying to pass even more unnecessary legislation in their war on women and women's health issues. The Hyde Amendment already bans federal funds for abortion, yet the Republicans keep trying to pass laws repeating this. To what end? They appear to be misogynistic women haters, who wish to keep us all in the kitchen, pregnant, and barefoot. And let's not forget the importance of which light bulbs we should be allowed to use! Apparently while they're complaining about big government and getting it out of our lamps, it's still okay for it to be in our bedrooms.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  20. bontragerfam

    We should always pray for our leaders, whether we like them or not, to make good decisions for our country.

    October 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • 1crusader

      There are a lot of things that I don't agree with Rick Perry on, but I agree, as a Christian with him, and I agree with you on that.When George W. Bush was president, I did the same.I didn't vote for him either time, because i didn't think that he was the best candidate, but I prayed for him, as The Bible teaches, and not evil ,cynical prayers against him, hatefully and begrudgingly ; but genuinely that he would make the right decisions, and govern well.I give Governor Perry a thumbs up on this one !

      October 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • chad

      Well said!

      October 14, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.