Springdale’s Floyd leads prayer for Trump in Oval Of­fice

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - FRANK E. LOCK­WOOD

WASHINGTON — Cross Church Pas­tor Ron­nie Floyd prayed for Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in the Oval Of­fice this week, ask­ing for God’s bless­ing as a large group of evan­gel­i­cals sur­rounded the pres­i­dent and bowed their heads.

Many of the min­is­ters laid their hands on Trump’s shoul­ders dur­ing the in­vo­ca­tion. A few steps away, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence closed his eyes and lis­tened as the Northwest Arkansas min­is­ter spoke.

Mon­day’s meet­ing wasn’t listed on the pres­i­dent’s pub­lic cal­en­dar. Word spread af­ter a par­tic­i­pant posted pho­tos of it on so­cial me­dia.

The faith lead­ers had been in­vited to the White House to dis­cuss reli­gious free­dom and other mat­ters with a rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the of­fice of pub­lic li­ai­son, of­fi­cials said. They weren’t told ahead of time that they’d be ush­ered into the heart of the West Wing.

The vice pres­i­dent was the one who sum­moned them, Floyd said in a tele­phone in­ter­view Wed­nes­day. “He came over and stated that the pres­i­dent … wanted to say hello to us.”

The pres­i­dent made his guests feel wel­come, the for­mer South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion pres­i­dent said.

“He’d just got­ten back from his trip over­seas,” Floyd said. “His spir­its [were] good, very hope­ful.”

The White House said the visit was a last-minute ad­di­tion to Trump’s sched­ule and was un­re­lated to any re­cent po­lit­i­cal de­vel­op­ments.

“The pres­i­dent learned that they were vis­it­ing and in­vited them to the Oval Of­fice where he greeted them warmly. It was an im­promptu meet­ing, not planned,” a White House spokesman said. “As an ad­vo­cate for reli­gious lib­erty, Pres­i­dent Trump has a strong re­la­tion­ship with many in the faith-based com­mu­ni­ties.”

Trump, a Pres­by­te­rian, heav­ily wooed Chris­tian con­ser­va­tives in 2016. He re­ceived four-fifths of the white evan­gel­i­cal vote, exit polls showed.

Floyd did en­dorse a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date but joined Trump’s faith ad­vi­sory board dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign.

The church he leads has lo­ca­tions in Rogers, Springdale and Fayet­teville.

Tel­e­van­ge­list Paula White, a friend of the pres­i­dent, sug­gested Mon­day’s prayer, and Floyd was asked to give it.

The pas­tor said he wasn’t ex­pect­ing to be called upon but was glad to oblige.

“I prayed for pro­tec­tion for the pres­i­dent and the vice pres­i­dent be­cause we live in a very dif­fi­cult day in our coun­try. I prayed for God to lead them and for them to rely on the Lord for strength and for wis­dom,” he said.

It’s a prayer he’s given, in one form or an­other, count­less times.

“I prayed ev­ery day for Pres­i­dent [Barack] Obama and his fam­ily, and I have faith­fully done that through the years.”

Mon­day’s prayer was spe­cial, how­ever.

“I’d never been in the Oval Of­fice and, ob­vi­ously, it was un­ex­pected,” he said. The room “reeks with his­tory, your mind races to all the great de­ci­sions of our na­tion, all of the in­cred­i­ble chal­lenges of ev­ery pres­i­dent that’s ever held the of­fice.”

Now that he’s back in Arkansas, he’ll con­tinue pray­ing for the na­tion’s lead­ers, re­gard­less of party af­fil­i­a­tion, he said.

“This is not about who’s right and who’s wrong, who’s Repub­li­can, who’s Demo­cratic or who’s in­de­pen­dent. There’s none of that in Scrip­ture. The Scrip­ture says to pray for the lead­ers of our coun­try. … Those of us who know God and know Christ per­son­ally, we need to do that.”

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