A Lincoln Experience

This week is the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. It’s not generally taught in schools, but during his first term in office, Lincoln – who appeared to enter office as an unbelieving son of believing parents – began to know something of God and His ways. Though he never joined a church, the president experienced enough of God to be described by two biographers as “a man of more intense religiosity than any other President the United States has ever had.

They continue, saying, “Lincoln's faith was not conventional,” and go on to describe that faith as growing, but completely outside of the normal traditions of being a Christian in his day (or in ours). In fact, it was Lincoln’s new faith that led him to declare the controversial Emancipation Proclamation that abolished slavery in this nation.

In other words, Abraham Lincoln entered office with not much of a living faith, but encountered God early in his term of office.

There are a number of prophetic voices around this country who are praying for the same kind of experience with President Barack Obama: that early in his term of office, he would find the God whose hand has been on this nation since before her birth. These men and women are believing that this is God’s purpose for Mr. Obama.

I say all of this for two reasons: first to encourage prayer for President Obama, and specifically, to encourage prayer for an Abraham Lincoln experience: that he would discover his Maker more personally over the next few years.

Second, an introduction is needed for this CNN report of Mr. Obama speaking of his own “religious transformation.” This is a foundation from which to pray for that Lincoln experience for Mr. Obama. He has a start, let’s pray for a faith that drives his choices and actions to the point where Barack Obama is willing – as Abraham Lincoln was – to make politically dangerous decisions in favor of justice for the helpless, that Obama would declare with Lincoln, “It is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lord's side.” And let’s continue to pray for Mr. Obama even if his faith, Like Lincoln’s, does not line up doctrinally or experientially with traditional orthodox Christianity.

Obama speaks out about religious transformation

WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Barack Obama spoke out Thursday about his religious transformation. The President's comments came at the National Prayer Breakfast.

Here's what Obama said, according to the prepared remarks.

“I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion, even as she was the kindest, most spiritual person I’ve ever known. She was the one who taught me as a child to love, and to understand, and to do unto others as I would want done.

“I didn’t become a Christian until many years later, when I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college. It happened not because of indoctrination or a sudden revelation, but because I spent month after month working with church folks who simply wanted to help neighbors who were down on their luck – no matter what they looked like, or where they came from, or who they prayed to. It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher purpose – His purpose.