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.

 

 

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