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. gager

    Another belief blog fail.

    October 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  2. Daws

    How's that power of prayer thing working for them? Any connection with why the pope still prefers bulletproof glass on his mobiles? >.<

    October 14, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  3. Richard Kaiser

    Mat 6:33 "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

    In searching have you found yet, “The Kingdom of God or even where such a domain is located?”

    Jhn 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence."

    The Lord Christ Jesus has stated himself that this world is NOT of His Kingdom and perhaps never will be,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

    1Cr 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, [ye are] God's building.”

    Being God’s husbandry, we are all laborers together with God and are given the chance to procreate and thru procreation God places His Hopes that one day soon someone will have an eye to see and in seeing know without a doubt that we are outrightly but Buildings, the structures of the Gods’ grand designs!

    1Cr 3:16 "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and [that] the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"

    Some of the Gods’ buildings are as Temples and in these Temples of Godliness, does reside the spirit of all Gods’ wealthiness. A piano player, a drummer, a guitarist a singer are all of the Gods’ Temples. I though am but a building for I did spend most of my days, not doing the things that the Gods have set upon me to do in my youth. I nowadays write what the Holy Spirit inside me dictates to me to write.

    Luk 17:21 "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is inside/within you."

    Alas, The Kingdom of God is truly inside us! Thank you Lord Christ Jesus for saying it in your Word! Science is so staunch with laborious trials and errors to bring together Fractal and Celestial and Cellular Cosmologies intertwining culpabilities. Time though is on the side of the knowing of Truth.

    1Cr 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

    By adding light and high magnification can the “hidden things of darkness” upon Inner Space be revealed. Even microscopic magnification as yet today, cannot truly see and/or peer into the atomic plains of magnified relativities.

    Only by capturing light by timed telescopic magnification can one see the far away “hidden things of darkness” in Outer Space. Still, one cannot see but a short distance toward the closer Outer Space phenomenon while much of Outer Spaces’ “hidden things of darkness” will never ever be seen by our prying eyes, much less traveled to.

    Both darkened places of “hidden things” are of one accordance and revealing sameness, ergo which one is imitating the other? Or, are both things of hidden darkness being Celestial Objects and Sub-Microscopic Objects mimicking each other simultaneously?

    Just exactly how big is the Celestial Cosmos of Outward Space? Does it contain only one solitary universe as science unrelentingly still stands behind, or are there but a few or even perhaps innumerably immeasurable Universes of too many to count much less even see by our telescoping, prying eyes? Could GOD really be this perception we call the Celestial Cosmos? Could this GOD who is the Celestial Cosmos have a Holy Spirit which is this Oceanic Sea of Nothingness?

    October 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  4. Dave

    Yes, also we should pray for Perry and other GOP candidates to open their wisdom to help this country better.

    October 14, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
  5. TruthPrevails

    Perhaps we should remember that there is such thing as Separation of Church and State. USA is a secular nation and Rick Perry should be told to keep his prayers to himself and do something good..like making the churches pay tax on every dollar they bring in from the poor sheeple that foolishly waste Sunday's dropping money in the collection plates.

    October 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jake

      Amen to that!

      October 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  6. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [singing] I don't want no teenage queen!
    Recruits: [singing] I don't want no teenage queen!
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [singing] I just want my M-14!
    Recruits: [singing] I just want my M-14!
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [singing] If I die in the combat zone...
    Recruits: [singing] If I die in the combat zone...
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [singing] Box me up and ship me home!
    Recruits: [singing] Box me up and ship me home!
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [singing] Pin my medals up on my chest!
    Recruits: [singing] Pin my medals up on my chest!
    Gunnery Sergeant Hartman: [singing] Tell my mom I've Done my best!
    Recruits: [singing] Tell my mom I've Done my best!

    October 14, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @lucifer's evil twin
      How tall are you, private?

      October 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      "I didn't know they could stack sh!t that high!"

      October 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm |

    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 2:18 pm |
  8. Richard Kaiser

    Separation of 'church and state' ,,,, and not separation of 'state and church',,,,, Tactilitarian issues,,,,,who be who and what is what?

    October 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      And for that matter, who made who?
      Who made you?
      If you made them and they made you, who picked up the middle, and who made who?

      October 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin


      October 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Richard Kaiser

      @ Doc Vestibule et al,,,,,,

      🙂 & 🙂 = 🙁 & 🙁 + 🙂 + 🙂 + :-(,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, 🙁

      October 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @Lucifer's Evil Twin
      They are a band known for the subtle existentialism of their lyrics.
      To wit:
      "I've got big balls
      And they're such big balls
      Dirty big balls
      And he's got big balls
      And she's got big balls
      But we've got the biggest balls of them all"

      One could become lost in a meditative trance, deciphering the philosophical nuances of musings like that.

      October 14, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      If you got a lady and you want her gone
      But you ain't got the guts
      She keeps naggin' at you night and day
      Enough to drive you nuts –
      Pick up the phone
      Leave her alone
      It's time you made a stand
      For a fee
      I'm happy to be
      Your back door man
      Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
      Dirty Deeds and they're Done Dirt Cheap
      Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT
      Done Dirt Cheap
      Neckties, contracts, high voltage
      Done Dirt Cheap

      October 14, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  9. Al

    Obama has reaffirmed his Christian faith many times,

    Why? Why are Americans so obsessed with this? Is it because he is black? Reagan didn't go to church. I don't remember that being an issue. Why is Obama's faith an issue now?

    “I believe in the redemptive death and resurrection of Jesus Christ".

    If this is what he believes, that's fine, but I don't want to hear about it. That should be kept private..

    October 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      That is what I pretty much consider to be his major failing.

      October 14, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Dave

      I know. I know. Scratching on my head.

      October 14, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • truthfl1

      Because of Rev Wright- God Dann America

      October 14, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  10. Mike

    How about we leave prayers out of the government all together? Or let's just pray to a flying spaghetti monster because that's more realistic than Jesus

    October 14, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Jake


      October 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  11. Martha in CF

    Please take Perry and his wife back to Texas and put them out to pasture!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 14, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  12. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Lt. Lockhart: [reading] ... we have a new directive from M.A.F. on this. In the future, in place of "search and destroy," substi*tute the phrase "sweep and clear." Got it?
    Private Joker: Got it. Very catchy.

    October 14, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  13. Mark

    You can pray until you are blue in the face and its not going to change one thing. Prayer is a waste of time.

    October 14, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  14. Christian

    Alas, Rick Perry had nothing to do with it, The Presidential Prayer Team (PPT) has been praying for GWB since 2000. As a past member I can assure you that as soon as Pres. Obama took office the (PPT) practically CEASED praying for him as they allied themselves with CONSERVATIVE Christians praying that Pres. Obama policies would FAIL!

    October 14, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  15. Richard Kaiser

    “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a Spirit is manifest in the laws of the universe – a Spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble. In this way the pursuit of science leads to a religious feeling of a special sort, which is indeed quite different from the religiosity of someone more naive.” (Einstein 1936, as cited in Dukas and Hoffmann, Albert Einstein: The Human Side, Princeton University Press, 1979, 33).


    Nobel Prize: Albert Einstein (1879–1955) was awarded the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics for his contributions to Quantum Theory and for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect. Einstein is one of the founders of modern physics; he is the author of the Theory of Relativity. According to the world media (Reuters, December 2000) Einstein is “the personality of the second millennium.”

    Nationality: German; later Swiss and American citizen

    Education: Ph.D. in physics, University of Zurich, Switzerland, 1905

    Occupation: Patent Examiner in the Swiss Patent Office, Bern, 1902-1908; Professor of Physics at the Universities of Zurich, Prague, Bern, and Princeton, NJ.

    Copied from http://nobelists.net/

    October 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  16. Phil in KC

    Oh yeah. I can see it now. A bunch of religious right-wing zealots are going to start praying and, all of a sudden, Obama will become a conservative. Right – that's going to happen.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Bobby McKenzie

      YOu don't get it of course. When we pray for the President, (and yes we do) we pray for the safety of him and his family, for knowledge to good decision (whatever they may be) and the courage to carry those decisions through. We also pray for the country he leads. Do me a favor and leave politics out of it okay?

      October 14, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      "Bobby McKenzie said
      Do me a favor and leave politics out of it okay?"

      LMAO...I could have sworn this article was about Ricky Perry and another one of his prayer-a-palooza's and you're asking that politics be kept out of it. How about leaving religion out of politics?

      As for praying, speaking to dead air is not working...sorry, it has been proven that prayer has no effect on the betterment of the country or anything else for that matter.
      If you want prayer to matter, then your church and every other one out there should start paying taxes and contribute to the national debt crisis...much better than praying and more effective.

      October 14, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Ron Jeremy

      Obama is already flying the right wing. He's a closet republican. The democrats are mostly too enamored with themselves to realize this.

      October 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  17. Nuno

    Only in America, this is so ridiculous. When are these Fanatical Evangelic Christians going to understand that this is NOT Jesus way. The should read Matthew 6:6 more often LOL the problem is that they pick and choose to their convenience. Bush Sr. and Jr. were the same fanatical Christians, yet they did their wars, one still going on, killing innocent people.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Lucifer's Evil Twin

      I just want to point out that both wars are ongoing and "innocent people" is open for debate. "Anyone who runs, is a VC. Anyone who stands still, is a well-disciplined VC!"

      October 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  18. Lucifer's Evil Twin

    Spottswoode: Gary, if for some reason your cover is blown, and the terrorists take you prisoner, well, you'll probably want to take your own life. Here, you'd better have this. [hands Gary a hammer]

    October 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  19. Boytjie

    Maybe we should pray for Perry to get some wisdom.

    Obnoxious, pretentious ass.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:42 pm |

      Rick Perry, Cain, Romney, Huntsman, and all those Pharisees and the Sadducees. "That that is has been and that that has been will be again."

      October 14, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  20. Beeepp

    Perhaps the president should request prayer rather than us doing it for him. Otherwise, it's offensive.

    October 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      Perhaps prayer should be left out of it all together...more focus on the national debt and less on speaking to the air. Does no-one see where the country is headed? Are people feeling so helpless that they need to pray to feel like they're doing some good?

      October 14, 2011 at 3:06 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.