Faith Leaders: Praying for the President 'Not Optional'

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Loved your enemies lately? Prayed for those you disagree with? Two Christian groups that often oppose President Obama's policies are making a very public gesture to say they're backing him -- with prayer.

Rev. Rob Schenck, president of Faith and Action, and Rev. Pat Mahoney, with the Christian Defense Coalition, are both pastors who know many fellow evangelicals are upset with the election results.

"Some of them are heartbroken that the American people chose to elect Barack Obama to a second term," Rev. Schenck said. "And a lot of Christians are having a very hard time with that. Some are very bitter. Some are in despair."

But as they unfolded an inaugural banner, they wanted to let Christians know none of that relieves them of their obligation to pray for the president.

"In Timothy we're told to pray for our leaders," Mahoney told CBN News. "There's no asterisk. There's no parenthetical 'Oh, only if you agree with him.'"

The yellow banner declares, "We don't always agree with the president, but we always pray for him."

"That's something we're all obligated to do, and the Bible says this pleases God, our Savior," Schenck said. "So I say do you need any more reason than that? It pleases God!"

"And our president needs wisdom; he needs guidance," Mahoney said.

Mahoney pointed out the early Church even prayed for its enemies, like the infamous persecutor Saul, killer of Christians.

"Saul had set his heart against the Church, but yet on the road to Damascus, there was a mighty transformation. Could we believe in the next four years that there's a Damascus Road experience for this president, a transformation that will shift the landscape of this country? That's certainly what I'm praying for," Mahoney said.

The Faith and Action building is right across the street from the Supreme Court. Many lawmakers pass by as they go back and forth to their offices.

On Inauguration day, tens of thousands of people will pass by.

"We're going to see a lot of people doing this because banners capture attention, and as far as I know, we're the only banner anywhere within view," Shenck said, craning his neck toward the banner.

The banner itself is displayed blocks from where the inauguration will be, but four years ago the president stopped by the Supreme Court to pay a courtesy call.

If he does that this year, then he's likely to drive right passed this banner that lets him know people of faith are praying for him.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at