The Bible calls for people to pray for our leaders, so one congressman went to the people of his district to make that happen. It was meant to be a positive gesture, but not everyone on the internet saw it that way.
Congressman Mike Bost, R-IL, didn't like what he was seeing in our country at the beginning of 2017. Protests were happening everywhere and many well-known people made it clear they did not support the new administration. So his wife had an idea: They should collect thoughts and prayers to encourage President Donald Trump.
"We thought maybe we'd get 30, whatever," Rep. Bost told CBN News. "It came back – there were hundreds."
People from age five to almost 100 wrote the president encouraging messages. Before sending them off to the White House, the Bosts read through all of them to make sure only uplifting messages made it through.
"There was a 90-year-old woman that on it said, 'I have never written to a president, but I'm depending on you, and I pray into you every day that you'll straighten this country out – it needs it so bad,' " recalled Bost.
Bost had the letters delivered to the White House and had no idea if they'd be read or not. Then, a few months later, he was invited to the White House with about 20 other congressmen to see the president sign a bill into a law. While they were in the Oval Office, Trump wondered aloud why Rep. Bost's name sounded so familiar.
"He all of the sudden turns at me and goes, 'Bost, Bost, prayer cards!' " recounted Bost. "And I said, 'Wow, yeah we sent you some prayer cards over.' "
A White House aide then pulled the bag of prayer cards off a shelf in the Oval Office and brought them over.
"He said, 'You know we use these every day.' And I said, 'What?' And he said, 'Yeah, that's why they're here. We use them every day,' " continued Bost.
And it wasn't just the president reading them.
"I turned, and honest to goodness, I turned and hit chest to chest with the vice president, and he goes, 'Mike, he's not joking. We read these every day and they're so wonderful,' " said Bost.
Months after that meeting, Bost received a photo of him with the president holding the prayer cards, which his office decided to post on social media. It went up three days after the Florida school shooting that killed 17 children, and the timing caused a great deal of internet backlash.
"There was an atheist group that got on social media that said, 'Here we have this shooting at this school and all you're going to do is thoughts and prayers?' " recalled Bost. "And it got real negative from then."
Many people writing about the school tragedy wrongfully assumed the picture was taken that same day.
"It's upsetting that in today's media they would give a false impression of what it was and then bad mouth what we did," Bost told CBN News. "Is there other action you can take besides prayer? You bet – but you can't not pray if you're a person of faith. You have to."
Bost says he knows firsthand the impact thoughts and prayers can have on lawmakers.
"Scripture is pretty clear that we need to pray for our leaders," says Bost. "You know what? You never go wrong when you pray for somebody."
Praying for leaders is something the Illinois lawmaker has put into practice his whole life, no matter what side of the aisle the president was on.
"I served with Barack Obama in the state of Illinois. Know him quite well. Don't agree with him – didn't agree with him on quite a few things – but I never didn't not pray for him," said Bost.
Despite the negative press, Bost tells CBN News they already have a fresh bag of thoughts and prayers ready to go, and his wife hopes to soon set up a web page to collect submissions from around the country.