Eyes Wide Open

Prayer. It’s an area of my life that needs a lot more time invested into it. I’ll say the little prayers throughout the day, you know, those short ones that go something like, “Lord, please give me patience this morning” or, “Please take care of __________ who is having surgery today”. Or the one I say most often, “Lord, please don’t let me get stuck at this light. I love you, Jesus.” You like how I throw in the “I love you, Jesus” to really drive it home?

These are not the prayers I need to spend more time on. It’s the ones that require me to stop—like stop my life—and just be still in that moment. Now, one would think that when I get a second alone and close my eyes, this is when meaningful time with the Lord happens…and one would be wrong. Let’s be honest, if I’m alone and my eyes are closed, there’s a 99.9% chance I’m asleep. As a child we are taught to pray by closing our eyes, putting our hands together, and getting down on our knees. I’m not sure where this prayer practice became the standard, but I’ve found that in my prayer time is much more fruitful when I pray with my eyes open. I don’t think the Bible says, “Thou shalt not pray with thine eyes open.” At least, not in the version I read.

I also like to pray out loud. Some of my best conversations with God happen when I’m praying aloud—yes I mean talking to yourself. I tend to only do this when I’m home alone or by myself, but occasionally my kids will walk in on me whispering to myself and they just add it to the list of reasons why Mom is so cray-cray. Also on that list is singing when I have headphones on. But I only do that when I clean so it’s kind of like seeing a unicorn. It rarely happens. I digress.

My new prayer practice of eyes open and out loud started so I could work out my thoughts, but it also keeps my mind on track. Sometimes as I’m talking, God helps me see a situation in a completely different light. When I close my eyes and pray silently my mind tends to deviate down rabbit trails. Like my to-do list or a conversation I’ve had earlier in the day, or my kids, or my husband. The list goes on and on.

You want to know something ironic? A drawback of praying with your eyes open is Satan still tries his best to distract me with something shiny. It’s usually in the form of household chores. I can be sitting there praying and the light will reflect off my countertops and reveal every crumb and sticky spot. And let me tell you, there’s usually quite a few. Being eye level with my counter surfaces can be a very scary place. That’s when I lose concentration and all I can do is think about how dirty my counters are. I try to forget about it and focus, but I usually can’t get over the fact that my family lives in this filth every day. Usually I end up succumbing to the urge and clean my countertops…but as I’m scrubbing them clean, I’m praying out loud, sometimes even to the beat of a tune.

So it just goes to show that Satan can distract me with my eyes open or closed. It truly is amazing that God ever reaches me at all with so many internal and external noises going on around me.

But that’s the thing about God—He consistently pursues us.

He will show up every time I’m willing to meet with Him. And He doesn’t care if my eyes are open or closed. He doesn’t care if I pray silently or out loud. He just wants me to show up and be present with Him. When I shift my focus away from myself and on to God, it’s amazing what He will show me about Himself. I guess the old hymn still rings true:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus

Look full in His wonderful face

And the things of earth will grow strangely dim

In the light of His glory and grace.”

How do you like to pray? Eyes open or closed? What prayer practice do you use?