Over the next two days, I wrestled over what I should say at the event following Trump’s remarks. I debated challenging him publicly for the Muslim travel ban, but the night before the event, Max, a trusted friend and Howard Divinity School graduate, reminded me of Jesus’ calling in Matthew 5:44 to pray for our enemies. He challenged me to believe in the power of prayer, to preserve this event’s focus on prayer and to confront Trump separately. I wrestled with his advice all night, but around midnight, I decided he was right. I would have plenty of chances to speak out against the president’s ban, but I had only one opportunity to help preserve an important national event focused on prayer.
At the breakfast the next morning, I privately expressed to the president my intense disagreement with the Muslim travel ban and said I would work to oppose it, but I also made a simple request: would he allow me to call him up to the lectern, place my hand on his shoulder and pray for him? Reluctantly, he agreed.
I’ve been asked many times since then why I made that decision, and the answer is that I’ve seen the amazing power of prayer and God’s grace, even in the most challenging circumstances. If my parents could be brave enough to live their faith by welcoming foreigners and criminals with nowhere to go, and if my own political opponents could be humble enough to join me in prayer, shouldn’t I be willing to do the same?