This year, an upbeat song called "Open the Eyes of My Heart" has been storming up the charts of the Christian worship industry. (Yes, worship music has bestseller lists.) Taking its cue from Ephesians 1:18 and Isaiah 6, this song has millions of us imploring, "Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, I want to see you … high and lifted up, shining in the light of your glory."
Scripture, of course, implies that we might not be eager for this prayer to be answered. After his brush with the hem of God's robe, Isaiah responded with dismay—not quite the stuff of up-tempo pop music. Indeed, even if we make a more modest request from pop praise music's early days—"open our eyes, Lord, we want to see Jesus"—the scriptural record of both Christmas and Easter suggests that we probably wouldn't recognize him at first.
Still, we're not the first to ask God to do something for which we may be unprepared. Americans of an earlier generation heartily sang, "Take my silver and my gold, not a mite would I withhold," with no particular effect on their bank accounts, but that wasn't the fault of the song. God's people can pray and hope for face-to-face intimacy with their Creator, even if, like Augustine praying for the gift of celibacy, we softly add, "just not quite yet."
But what puzzles me is why we sing these songs with our eyes firmly shut. What would Jesus have said to Bartimaeus and the other blind beggars if they had asked for sight while squeezing their eyes closed as tightly as possible? Yet in churches across the land, we sing about open eyes—in the words of another chart-topper, "I once was blind, but now I see"—while inducing voluntary, albeit temporary, blindness.
Maybe evangelical Protestants shut our eyes because there is so little to ...1