fbpx

Praying With Our Eyes Wide Open

Literally.

I know, I know. It goes against everything we learned growing up. Bow your heads and close your eyes. To do anything different seems awkward.

But within my four walls, I welcome the difference, always praying with my eyes wide open. When it comes to praying with others, however, I cave to tradition.

 

I don’t want to look weird or feel out of place — and my spirit groans every single time.

 

The only way I know how to describe what happens the moment I close my eyes to pray is to compare it to a Twilight Zone episode called Little Girl Lost. A child accidentally falls through an opening in the wall and enters a different dimension. She cries while floating around in the dark, trying to reach for her dog, who suffered the same fate.

Okay, so that’s a tad dramatic but it’s true. I close my eyes to pray and everything goes dark. Everything except for the distractions. They bark louder than any dog I know.

 

Is it Unbiblical to Pray with Our Eyes Open?

 

It’s not. There’s nothing in the Bible that says our eyes must be closed to communicate well with our God. When Jesus feeds the 5,000 he prays looking up to heaven. Were his eyes open? I believe so.

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.” Matthew 14:17-19 [emphasis mine]

God doesn’t pay attention to what we wear, if we’ve showered, or if our hair is mussed or perfect. The tradition of closing our eyes is both understandable and honorable. We all want to be fully present, whether our eyes are open or closed. But since our conversation today is focused on the former, here are some tips for avoiding distractions:

 

How to Avoid Distractions When Praying With Eyes Wide Open

 

  • Look up! Jesus set the example. The sky is vast and full of God’s glory. Like the ocean, it reminds us of our smallness and that is good.
  • Journal prayers first. Write down the specifics first, and then pray. This way, when praying with our eyes open, the things we want to pray for surface quicker. Distractions, at least for me, tend to happen more when my heart/mind isn’t warmed up.
  • Whenever possible, pray aloud. Hearing the words help to cement them in the heart. By the same token, praying out loud also helps me to “hear” the sins that are trying to squeak in the back door of my heart. Sometimes the simple tone of my request says it all. Combining the two ⏤eyes open and aloud⏤changed my prayer life.

 

Other Times We Can {and Should} Pray with Eyes Wide Open

 

  • When driving. Or when the guy on your bumper scooches up just a little too close for comfort.
  • When we’re outside. “Listen to this, Job; stop and consider God’s wonders.” Job 37:14
  • As we go through our day. Ephesians 6:18 encourages us to be alert in prayer. Staying attuned to the beauty and heartache that surrounds us every day gives us continual reasons to walk and pray throughout our day.

Writing is often cathartic and this post is one of those moments for me. If praying with my eyes wide open isn’t unbiblical and if my spirit groans when I try to pray like everyone else because of pride, I need to confess it and move forward in faith. Because this is what we know:

Eyes open, eyes closed. It matters not, as long as the heart is engaged.

 

 

Divider

 

Did you notice the new title Creative Pauses…from the Tiny House on the Hill? I share a little more about the why behind the newly revised on my About Page.

Thank you for stopping by for a visit! I’d love for you to stay awhile. If you’d like to become a part of the Creative Pauses community, simply type your e-address in the righthand sidebar. Bi-weekly posts offer a pause of goodness to your busy day and they automatically land in your inbox. Once a month, you’ll also receive a newsletter chock-full of helpful tidbits on drawing nearer to God and loving others well.

So, come on over and sit a spell. I’d love to get to know you! 

The Life-Changing Results from Praying in Every Room of Our Home

Praying in Your HOmeThe morning I spent praying through our home back in January is a morning I won’t soon forget. Perhaps you remember this post I wrote back when limbs were exposed, and so was I.

I can’t say for sure why turmoil erupted from within when I began tapping the keys for that post. Maybe it’s because I shared about my struggle with depression. Or maybe it was revealing my fear of a test result or the fear that my prayer walk through our home may be taken as mystical rather than biblical. My guess is that pride and the enemy were vying for victory as they each tugged fiercely on the rope. Turns out, neither won.

The response from the post was overwhelming. Comments, emails, Facebook messages, etc., confirmed that I am not alone in this desire to have my home immersed in God’s presence. Nor am I alone in the desire to experience palpable peace and an underlying current of joy more powerful than the hundreds of volts running through my home.

Since praying through each room nine months ago, I’ve observed specific ways prayers have been answered.

House Prayers

Front Entry {Prayed in January}

For guests entering our home to feel welcomed and cared for by us, and ultimately, the Lord. To cultivate an open home, regardless of how clean or messy our house is at the moment. For God’s blessing and protection.

How Prayer Is Being Answered

We’ve had more guests in our home in the past nine months than we had in ten years at our last home. Trust me, I know this isn’t anything to brag about. I share it only to say that now when I struggle to open our home at inopportune times, I recall my prayer in January and quietly proclaim, This is Your house, God. Be glorified. And my soul hits the re-set button.

 

Den {Prayer in January}

For the conversations in this room to be edifying and glorifying to the Lord. To be filled with joy, laughter, and family-building moments. It was also in this room that with outstretched arms I prayed for any spirit not of God to flee, in the name of Jesus. There was no room for the spirit of fear, discouragement, or confusion in our home.

How Prayer is Being Answered

Conversations have taken place on our couch this year that I never dreamed possible. I still struggle with fear in some areas but when I had the same exact test done in July that I had in January, there was no fear.

 

Kitchen {Prayer in January}

For Brian and my family to feel loved (not cursed) by the food I prepare for them. To receive creative ideas in ministering to others through food and meals. For me to make wiser choices in my food selections. {I’m still reaping the consequences from last year’s stress-mess.} To embrace the mundane work of my hands for His glory.

How Prayer is Being Answered

With increased guests and family visits, the kitchen has naturally become busier than normal. But a special “thank You, Lord” shot to the heavens when I recently served a large meal that would’ve normally sent me running. Brian asked, “Who are you?” I smiled because I knew it was more about Whose I was than who I am.

 

Where You Create {Prayed in January}

My writing desk is in our little sunroom. I prayed that every word penned would take flight for God’s glory. To lean into, depend on, and rest in Christ for not only the work but also the results. For an outpouring of creativity. To seek to know {by experience} God more deeply, not to seek to be known by others.

How Prayer is Being Answered:

I’m not sure where to begin with this one. Since January, I’ve published two books and several more are following. Let’s just say that when I “heard” God tell me that I was treating my calling more like a hobby (on the same afternoon I prayed throughout our home), everything changed in an instant. I began working on my first book within five minutes⏤literally. Two and half months later, the first book was available on Amazon. To God be the glory!

It’s for these reasons⏤and so much more⏤that I decided to create this free e-book for my subscribers. As an added bonus, I added sensory tips for each room!

 

If you’re a new subscriber to Cultivating Creativity, welcome!

Your time is the most precious commodity this side of heaven and I do not take it for granted. Every other week, you’ll receive my post in your inbox and once a month, a newsletter with the latest happenings, a small gift drawing, and a spotlight on one of my subscribers will also arrive. (September may have 1-3 additional emails due to the release of my second book and a guest post this Thursday by Andrea Merrell.) Never hesitate to let me know if there is some way I can pray for you or for your family along the way.

If you’re a current subscriber,

I can’t thank you enough for sticking with me as I meander my way around the learning curves associated with creating our newsletter, new books, and well, life in general. You’re the best!

If you’ve not yet subscribed,

I would love for you to consider joining our creative community. Give it a try and grab the FREE e-book that goes with it. If you’re not encouraged by the posts, or if it’s simply not the right fit, you may unsubscribe at anytime.

 

 

“Our prayers may be awkward. Our attempts may be feeble. But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not in the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.” – Max Lucado

Which room in your home do you feel could use a little prayer today?

 

5 Ways to Boost Your Quiet Time with God this Year + Free Downloads + Giveaway

Boost Your Quiet Time with God

Maybe your quiet time with God is exactly as you like (yay!), but if you could use a little boost before this new year rolls out, this post is for you.

To be clear, God and His Word never need a boost. The fact that we’re invited to meet with the same God who created man from dust, split open the Red Sea, and wrote words on a tablet with His finger out of love for His people, still stuns me to this day.

Many of us, however, sometimes require a boost. Human nature, changes in the schedule, health issues, and other circumstances can discourage and deflate us. And if we’re not careful, this discouragement can lead to avoidance thanks to the nagging whisper that says if you can’t do your quiet time “right” today, wait until you can. The first idea for boosting our quiet time below is fine-tuned for those kinds of days. After all, the word “boost” means to push upward and to encourage. So, onward and upward we go!

 

1. Focus on pivoting, not planning.

This general but oh-so-timely advice to focus on learning to pivot instead of planning came from Kendra Adachi, The Lazy Genius. It was a game-changer for this planner at heart. After all, lists are my love language. Most nights I plan out my next day…down to the hour. (Vertical calendar to the rescue!) It’s weird, I know, but structure is my friend. Having said that, my plans rarely all fall into place but doing so helps me use my time as wisely as possible. Even that, though, can be a trap if I’m not careful. And it’s probably why Kendra’s advice stopped me in my tracks.

Adopting the pivoting mindset is Biblical (holding everything loosely and remaining alert and willing to help others at a moment’s notice). It also boosts my quiet time with God by reminding me, especially on those mornings when we don’t meet, that all is not lost. Our time, instead, pivots because God is not limited by time or space, or anything else. Embracing this truth frees us from the self-inflicted guilt that can leave us spiritually paralyzed.

 

2. Take Meditation for a Walk

A quiet time with God is our life source because of two main components: prayer and reading God’s living and active Word (Hebrews 4:12). Adding time for meditating on the Word provides time for the Word to settle deeply in the soul like the snow that slowly absorbs into the ground. This can be done in a number of ways and one of those is to take a walk after our quiet time.

While reading scripture, pay attention to a word, verse, or verses you sense God is “highlighting” and jot it down on an index card or small piece of paper. Tuck it in your jacket, put on your walking shoes, and head outdoors (or if you’re like me, your indoor treadmill). There’s no right or wrong way, but here’s something I’ve tried:

  • Begin by acknowledging who God is — His characteristics, thanking Him for what comes to mind.
  • Read the word, verse, or verses you wrote down aloud.
  • Ask God what He wants to teach you through them as you continue walking, while also observing your surroundings.
  • Consider each word written down, one at a time, for a period of time.
  • Read the word, verse, or verses aloud again, asking God how to apply His truth.
  • Finish the walk thanking God for His Word and whatever else the Holy Spirit leads you to pray.

Keep the piece of paper with you throughout the day, speaking, reading, and praying over God’s words, blanketing the beauty of God’s Word over your soul.

[Download the above-suggested walk meditation.]

 

3. Sing!

If singing isn’t currently a part of your quiet time with God, it’s worth a try. Maybe it’s an entire song, or perhaps only a line or two. Whatever bubbles up from your soul before, during, and/or after, is a beautiful sacrifice to the One who sings over us. Zechariah 3:17 says, “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

If a song doesn’t come to mind, make a quiet time playlist to sing along with, or lend your own melody to a psalm.

[Download a psalm to sing.]

 

 

4. Meet with God in a New Setting

Changing up the scenery of our quiet time with God from time to time is good for the soul.

  • What about a local cafe? If yours isn’t quiet, pack the earbuds and read the Word on your phone. A nice addition is reading the daily devotion from the Dawn app. Throw in something to take notes, confident God has something to say during your time together.
  • Pack a picnic and head to a park where you feel safe to sit alone. It can be as simple as packing a canteen, fruit, and crackers. Follow the same steps as mentioned in the walk.
  • In your car. Pour a cup of coffee and head to a favorite spot in town. Maybe it’s a beautiful mountain range, or the perfect setting to see the sun climb or set.
  • In a garden. Depending on where you live, it might be difficult to find anything in bloom but even a sleeping garden can remind us of the life that brims just below the surface.
  • Hear me out on this one. A graveyard. My article on Christianity.com, “What Does the Bible Say about Visiting Graveyards” continues to hit top lists and was recently included in the “All-Time Questions Christians Asked in 2022” for a reason.

 

5. Invite a Friend to Join You

This is something I plan to try this year. Inviting another sister in Christ to join in a quiet time with God can’t help but give us both a spiritual boost. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…”, and we all know and love the familiar verse in Matthew 18:20 where Jesus says that where two or more are gathered in His name, He is there with them.

One idea is to take turns reading verses in a particular scripture passage. Another might be to write out a prayer to God and read it aloud to each other, or bring a list of people you’re praying for and exchange it. There’s something powerful about hearing another Christ-follower praying over those who matter most to us.

[Download a scripture passage to share.]

 

Have you tried any of the above ideas in your own quiet time with God? If so, we’d love to know about it. Share in the comments below and you’ll be entered for this sweet New Year giveaway:

A set of lovely tiny notebooks, perfect for taking your verse(s) for a walk!

 

(Psst…know someone who would find these ideas for boosting our quiet time with God helpful?)

 

 

 

5 More Places to Pray this Spring + Starbucks Giveaway

Places to Pray in Spring

 

Many of you enjoyed last year’s post, “7 Places to Pray this Spring” so I thought you might enjoy a few more.

Daring to step outside our comfort zones to talk with God reminds us how the faith walk is an adventure that was never intended to be squirreled away for safekeeping. It is flowing, never static. A verb, not a noun. In him, we live, and move, and have our being. (Acts 17:28)

In a recent Instagram post, Stephanie Smith (@stephduncansmith), shared this:

“Martin L. Smith, an Anglican monk, wrote a wonderful book on prayer The Word is Very Near You. In his chapter entitled “God is a Conversation,” he observes that we do not imitate prayer. Instead, we are invited to join a conversation that is already underway between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.”

 

So where can we join in the conversation this Spring?

 

A local coffee shop.

If the aroma and promise of “happy juice” (as my husband refers to coffee around here) aren’t enough to draw you in, step through the doors and let prayer be your guide. Ask the Holy Spirit to prompt you on how to pray for those seated around you, for the Baristas, for the woman seated in the corner, staring outside the window. With your intentional heart of prayer engaged, something much sweeter than foam swirled in a fancy design will waft through the air. (Here’s a post I shared a while back about my own coffee shop experience.)

 

Take a hike!

In most areas, spring is a perfect time to hit the trails. It’s not too hot or too cold and if we’re lucky, snakes are still hidden away wherever it is they go. Before the first shoe track smacks dirt, let’s jot down five things on the trail to find. And when we do, we can pause for a moment to thank God. Some things to look for on our hike might include a tiny critter, a particular wildflower or butterfly, moss, or a tree leaf.

 

Gym

Let’s face it, summer is just around the corner. As you walk on the treadmill, lift the weights, or row, row, row your boat, pause to take in your surroundings. Choose three people to pray for silently, trusting He knows their deepest needs. Or blanket the room in prayer as you remember 1 Timothy 4:8 ESV: For while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

 

Stargazing

Bundle up, tuck a blanket beneath your arm (or enjoy the leisure of a comfy outdoor chair), and look up! As you do, consider reading the scripture verses below:

  • He who made the Pleiades and Orion, who turns midnight into dawn and darkens day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out over the face of the land— the LORD is his name. Amos 5:8
  • Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. Isaiah 40:26
  • He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Psalm 147:4

Gazing into the dark sky, let’s pay attention to how God might be leading us to pray for ourselves and for others. Maybe it’s to remember God’s sovereignty, His creative work, or to be reminded that since He knows the number of stars and calls them by name that He surely knows (and cares about) every detail of our lives.

 

Strawberry pickin’

Tis’ the season here in the south when we load up the kids, head to a nearby strawberry patch, and hand out cartons to hold the sweet red triangular fruit. The Bible talks about teaching our children as we go and this can happen in a strawberry patch, an apple orchard, a vegetable garden, or anywhere else when we talk about Psalm 34:8, Taste and see that the LORD is good. What personal story of God’s goodness can we share with others and offer prayers of thankfulness as we go?

 

Do any of the above ideas spark your interest? We’d love to know! Or is there another place, in particular, you enjoy praying during this glorious season? Share below and you’ll be entered in a giveaway for a cup of Starbucks coffee (in case you want to try the first idea.)

 

 

Creative Ways to Serve, Play and Pray this Fall (Downloadable PDF)

Creative Ways to Serve, Play and Pray this Fall

Searching for ways to make the most of this season?

Let’s set aside the TV, phones, and other devices ⏤ Fall is here! Crisp winds, punkin’ patches, football, and fur-lined boots. Yes, please.

Gather the family—whether that’s two or twenty—and choose a favorite activity to boost your time together, and especially with the Lord. After all, a family that serves, plays, and prays together, stays together.

 

Serve Together

🍁 Host a yard sale and give the proceeds to a church fund, missionary, or charity.

🍁 Donate to a local missions store. If you prefer to skip the yard sale, you can still spend time together as a family gathering clothes, housewares, and toys to donate. Make plans to stop by for a treat on the way home.

🍁 Treat an elderly or disabled friend to a yard cleanup day. Rake leaves, trim shrubs or pull weeds. Yard work offers service opportunities for all ages. Want to go a step further? Leave a bucket of mums or another fall floral arrangement to brighten their porch.

🍁 Bake pumpkin bread together. Wrap up the loaf and attach a small note with Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” written on it. Brighten the day of a lonely neighbor or friend by hand-delivering it with a smile.

 

Play Together

As a family, brainstorm twelve activities that won’t require a great deal of prep or money. Write each one on a slip of paper and put it in a jar. Draw one slip (or more!) every week and decide the best day to carry it out. Some ideas might be:

🍁 Take a nature walk to engage your senses. What catches your eyes? How does a particular leaf feel? (Steer clear of poison ivy, of course!) How does the air smell in a forest? What do you hear? (Silence counts!) As you walk, gather color-coated leaves, rocks, acorns, and evergreen branches to decorate your mantle or tabletop when you return home.

🍁 Go on a picnic. Choose a lovely location. Maybe it’s beside a creek, on a mountain, in a park, or your own backyard. Let the children help plan the menu and prepare it for the picnic. Or plan to pick up a bucket of chicken. Don’t forget a blanket/tablecloth, utensils, napkins, and bug spray.

🍁 Game night! Whoever chooses this slip of paper gets to choose which game the family plays. Turn off the TV and turn on the laughter.

🍁 Popcorn & Puzzles. Create a designated table to work on a puzzle throughout the fall season. On the nights this slip of paper is drawn, plan to serve popcorn and lemonade or any family favorite food/drink.

 

Pray Together

Teaching our children that meaningful prayer can be both simple and enjoyable is a gift they will carry throughout their adulthood. Here are a few ways to get the creative juices flowing when praying as a family:

🍁 Walk & Pray. Before you set out, as a family, discuss various ways to pray for your neighbors, such as God’s blessings, God’s healing, for them to draw closer to God, for wisdom as a family, etc. Perhaps there are neighbors who need specific prayer. Share how God is the only One who truly knows what each person or family needs but that He honors our desire to pray for them. Then take a walk around your neighborhood. You can either pray quietly as you pass by neighbors’ homes or silently while keeping your eyes open. This helps children to learn that while closing our eyes during prayer helps us to concentrate it’s also okay and biblical to pray with our eyes open too.

🍁 Journal as a family. Purchase or create journals for every person in the family. Set aside a few minutes each night to journal together. Consider lighting gas logs or candles while you write. Younger children will enjoy coloring during their time. Setting aside fifteen minutes each night (or weeknights/weekends only) will help to develop a pattern that is sure to bless your children for many years to come.

🍁 Create a prayer board. Hang a designated “Prayer Request Chalkboard” in an accessible place in your home. When prayer requests arise, write them on the board and pray for them after dinner.

In a world that currently thrives on division, it’s refreshing to intentionally create togetherness.

What would you add to the above list and/or which one will you try first? We’d love to know! 

Keep this list handy! Download your PDF copy here.

(If you received a copy of “31 Ways to Pray for Your Children” or “Praying Throughout Your Home”, you’re in the right place. Welcome!)

[This post was shared first on the In The Quiver site.]

 

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul Mountain Devotional Guide

Pin It on Pinterest