Are the stars aligned for a “Divine appointment” of historic proportions on Thursday, Feb. 6, at the National Prayer Breakfast, where Donald Trump will deliver perhaps the most consequential address of his presidency? At this writing, it appears that way — through an almost supernatural confluence of events.
Tuesday, Feb. 4: President Trump is scheduled to give his third State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. He will be speaking as an impeached president on trial in the U.S. Senate. But Trump is not the first chief executive to be in that predicament.
On Jan. 19, 1999, President Bill Clinton gave a State of the Union address during his Senate impeachment trial and did not even mention impeachment. Whether Trump will take that page out of Clinton’s playbook remains to be seen. But this we know, reported by The Hill, quoting a senior administration official: “In his address, the president will lay out a vision of relentless optimism.”
Wednesday, Feb. 5: The U.S. Senate’s final vote in Trump’s impeachment trial is planned to occur around 4 p.m. An acquittal is all but certain with Republicans in control. Convincing two-thirds of the Senate to convict and remove the president from office was always considered a futile endeavor.
Thursday, Feb. 6: In the morning, expect the unexpected when President Trump is scheduled to speak at the 68th annual National Prayer Breakfast less than 24 hours after his presumed acquittal. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has addressed this influential audience of 3,500 elected officials, diplomats, national and international religious and political leaders. The breakfast is “literally one of the toughest tickets to get in Washington” — to quote House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) from his 2018 keynote speech, a dramatic re-telling about how God intervened when he almost lost his life in a shooting at a congressional baseball practice in 2017.
Since the date of the Prayer Breakfast is set in stone, the first Thursday in February, I am prompted to ask if the stars are aligned for a “Divine presidential appointment” of historic proportions — a concept believers will recognize as an event specifically arranged by God.
Words don’t adequately convey the solemn, serious, bi-partisan, and loving breakfast atmosphere when the city’s largest ballroom is temporarily transformed into a sanctuary where glorifying God triumphs over politics.
The audience represents many different faith traditions. However, the program and tone are overwhelmingly (evangelical) Christian. Testimonies, music, and speeches profess love for Jesus Christ and one another in addition to overcoming obstacles through prayer, forgiveness of sins, and trust in the Lord.
Thursday, Trump’s potential acquittal on late Wednesday positions the annual event as a platform for the president’s first major post-acquittal speech. Is that merely coincidental or miraculous? Either way, it raises the question: How will the newly acquitted president comport himself before the National Prayer Breakfast audience?
Will he be humble, and ask forgiveness for anything? Will he be boastful and arrogant? Will he talk about how he leaned on his faith to help him through this presidential crisis? Will he “joke” as he did in August that he is the “chosen one”? Or again, will Trump take his cue from President Clinton at the 1999 Prayer Breakfast and not even mention impeachment? (At the Feb. 4 breakfast Clinton had yet to be acquitted, which occurred eight days later on Feb. 12, 1999.) In Trump’s case, by Thursday morning, the ink on his Senate acquittal paperwork will still be wet, and he might let it rip.
Nonetheless, the president is being given a historic opportunity to address National Prayer Breakfast attendees at the most pivotal, triumphal time in his presidency. But this extremely dignified, mostly pro-Trump audience is worlds apart from a Trump rally. For starters, political speakers are not supposed to talk about partisan politics.
Then, it goes without saying: Thou shall not gloat or call thy enemies by names other than their own. Thus, will Trump rise to the moment of this Divinely timed occasion? Will his words confirm and reinforce the loyal support he and his policies have earned from voters who are followers of Christ, inside the ballroom and out? After acquittal, will he use this unique Prayer Breakfast timing and setting to talk about loving his enemies and uniting all of his people?
WWJS? – “What Would Jesus Say?”
Is Thursday morning’s must-see TV programmed by God? Stay tuned.