President Trump made a surprise visit on Sunday to McLean Bible Church (MBC), an evangelical megachurch in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. Trump arrived near the end of the afternoon service at MBC’s flagship campus to ask for prayer after a few hours of golf at his privately owned course in nearby Sterling, Virginia.
Pastor David Platt, who has served as teaching pastor for two years, brought Trump on stage and gave an impromptu prayer only minutes after learning that Trump was on his way.
Platt began by citing 1 Timothy Chapter 2, where the Apostle Paul calls on Christians to specifically pray for “kings and all who are in high positions,” and emphasized that it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ that unites the church, not politics or parties.
“We count it an honor to pray for any leader in any position, any leader from any party, including our current president. So I want to invite us to do what 1 Timothy chapter 2 calls us to do,” Platt said as he and Trump walked onstage.
“And we pray for your grace, and your mercy, and your wisdom upon him. God we pray that he would know how much you love him, so much that you sent Jesus to die for his sins, our sins. So we pray that he would look to you, that he would trust in you, that he would lean on you, that he would govern and make decisions in ways that are good for justice, and good for righteousness, and good for equity, every good path.”
Platt also prayed for strength, clarity, and wisdom for Trump’s family, adding that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” He also prayed for leaders in Congress, in courts, and in national and state levels of government.
The prayer concluded by asking God for help for everyone to “live in ways that reflect your love, and your grace, your righteousness, and your justice. We pray for your blessings on our president toward that end. Amen.”
McLean Bible Church was non-denominational from its founding in 1961 until 2016, when it began financially partnering with the Southern Baptist Convention. MBC became a cooperating church of the SBC of Virginia that year to “more effectively engage in church planting across Metro DC.”
The Vienna, Virginia-based church, which has multiple sites across Washington’s southern and western suburbs, is among the largest and highest profile congregations in the region, drawing in about 12,000 people each Sunday.
Before taking the role of “pastor-teacher” full-time last year, succeeding longtime teaching pastor Lon Solomon, Platt was president of the International Mission Board, a missionary society affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.
Platt, associated with the SBC’s Calvinist faction, is politically reserved and avoids public embrace of candidates, in contrast to enthusiastic pro-Trump figures such as Pastor Robert Jeffress of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas. Platt’s words of introduction before Trump came onstage and subsequent prayer were neutral and non-partisan, followed by a public letter to the church, knowing that many within it would be, in his words, “hurt” by his decision to accept Trump’s request for prayer.
In the letter he again pointed to 1 Timothy 2, and wrote that in the diverse church, “Christ alone unites us.” He wrote that he knows it is pleasing to God to pray for the president, and is thankful for the unique opportunity to do it in person. The letter also mentioned that he and one other pastor directly shared the gospel with Trump backstage before the two of them went on stage. Platt concluded the letter with calls for prayer for the spread of the Gospel, including to Trump: “In the end, would you pray with me for gospel seed that was sown today to bear fruit in the President’s heart?”