The first prayer I ever offered before state legislators was in Springfield, Illinois, a couple decades ago.
A close friend who served in the Illinois State Senate invited me to make the three-hour drive from our home in suburban Chicago. It was a distinct honor and rare privilege to see where a young legislator by the name of Abraham Lincoln got his political start.
As best as I can determine, another young legislator who would also become President of the United States was in that room that morning. As Barack Obama sat at his desk, I stood at the podium and gave my prayer. As I basked in the glow of that special moment, I had no idea that would be the first of many opportunities I would have to pray before a group of lawmakers.
After moving to Washington in 2005, I’ve made several trips to Olympia to pray before the State Senate or the State House of Representatives. I always consider it an honor to lead our state politicians in a moment of focus in which they recognize their accountability before and dependence on the Almighty.
If ever there was a time when political divisions and culture wars called for a sacred time out, it is in this conflicted season of history. Just this week I was invited to begin the daily proceedings in the state Legislature with an opening prayer. What follows is the text of what I prayed.
Good morning, Creator God,
On this first day of spring would you teach us to sing with the songbirds?
Their melodic chirping celebrates the promise of new beginnings that are characterized by the colorful blooms that push their beauty above ground to display Your glory. What an awesome God You are!
This morning we also celebrate the diversity of color and culture that characterizes our Evergreen State. We are grateful for the garden of humanity of which we are a part and that which you’ve called us to tend on Your behalf.
And now as daylight increasingly invades the evening hours, would You illuminate the understanding of these in this chamber who seek to improve the conditions of our citizens. May compromise and cooperation prevail in caucuses and general sessions alike.
Holy and loving God, may a common pursuit of law and order as well as justice and mercy motivate these who reach across the aisle to govern.
As the warmth of spring sunshine encourages the germination and growth of all that beautifies the landscape of our lives, may the warmth of genuine friendship result in a lingering fragrance and lasting beauty that draw us together for the common good. For it is in Your name we pray. Amen.
Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.