Praying with our eyes open

“And Abraham believed God and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness” (Galatians 3:6).

Looking forward to the National Day of Prayer, I can’t help but focus on the past. When I think of those defined by faith, I picture a man named Abraham.

In the family album of faith, his profile of courage is recognizable and frequently seen. The pages of history feature a man whose stature was head and shoulders above the others. His bearded face stood out in the crowd.

Abraham’s call from God was a daunting one. He was led to leave his familiar past and lead his people into an unknown future. It was a lonely call — a trek toward a “land God would show him,” marked by risk, rejection and the threat of death. And yet this man set his face like a flint toward his godly goals and refused to give up.

Of all the images of Abraham that I have encountered, I have a favorite. It captures a pensive countenance. No Kodak smile here. As I focus on that familiar face, I see his set jaw with closed-lips determination. I see those unblinking eyes staring to the east. In this particular snapshot, Abraham is seated on a throne-like chair. Legs uncrossed, arms extended.

No, the person I have in mind is not the “father of many nations” pictured in the Bible. It is one of the fathers of our nation. A man of faith who, like his ancient namesake, demonstrated that faith while following a divine call. This Abraham, like the wandering Aramean, looked to God as the source of his guidance, empowerment and courage.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln was a man of faith whose eyes were open to God’s guidance even as they surveyed the ungodly character that punctuated America’s soul.

As I picture that stone statue seated in the Washington, D.C., memorial that bears his name, I imagine our 16th president posed in prayer. He scans the Washington Mall and what that stretch of limestone, grass and water represents. A history marked by bloodshed and hope at home and abroad.

While memories of war are represented by the view to which Lincoln is privy, there is also Dr. King’s “March on Washington” that verbalized a dream of racial reconciliation. There is Coach McCartney’s gathering of a million Promise Keepers standing in the gap before a holy God on behalf of an unholy people.

On Thursday, May 7, I will join millions of Americans concerned for our nation’s future. I, with them, will seek out a house of worship and assume a posture of prayer. As I sit in the back of the church sanctuary, silently praying with my eyes open, I will pray to Lincoln’s God.

Gazing at the American flag at the front of the church, I will thank God for the freedom for which it stands. I will recall the blood that purchased our peace. Blinking back tears, I will thank my Heavenly Father for my earthly dad who died the very day our new president was elected. I will pray for others I know who have lost loved ones.

With eyes wide open to the current economic crises that challenge our sense of security, I will ask God to remind us as a nation where our hope in finding life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is ultimately found. I will ask Him to protect our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as they serve the cause of liberty in countries caged by terror.

Focusing on the open Bible on the communion table, I will ask Almighty God to guide our leaders and renew their ability to acknowledge His Word.

On the National Day of Prayer, I will pray with my eyes open to the frightening issues threatening to erode the spiritual foundations of our most blessed land. Won’t you join me?

Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos is the head of the Mercer Island Covenant Church and a regular contributor to the Reporter.

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