Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Praying with eyes and ears wide open

Recently, I posted that I was going to experiment with praying without words.  Actually, I have now begun the experiment with the goal of making me more open to hearing and seeing God in my prayer life.  Having read in Ecclesiastes that a fool opens his mouth in worship, I began a period of keeping my mouth closed during prayer.  That means I am not speaking prayer, not actively entertaining verbal thoughts while I pray.  That doesn't mean I'm not thinking.  I am.  I mean that I'm not speaking words to God in my brain.  I'm using my mind and my ears to listen to what God has for me.

At about the same time, I did a word study in the Bible for "pray" and "eye".  I was curious, does the Bible ever tell us to close our eyes during prayer.  You know what? It doesn't.  In fact, in 7 out of 8 occurrences of "pray" and "eye" in the scriptures, the passage is actually connected with opening eyes or looking with eyes.  (In the 8th passage eyes and prayer are not directly connected.) Of course, in most of these passages the one praying was asking God to open His eyes, but at that same time, I was thinking, why do we insist on closing our eyes?

I understand that there is the practical reason that we might be distracted with our eyes open.  True, but I find that I can be distracted (or asleep) with my eyes closed.  If the pray-er is asking God to look, why wouldn't the pray-er want to be looking was well.

So, as a second part of my experiment, for the month of March, I'm trying to learn to keep my eyes open while I pray.  This month, I'm going to pray with my eyes and ears wide open for God's message through me. I believe I will experience this.  I think it may come in corporate prayer as I hear and see the hearts of others pouring out. I think it may come in private prayer as I see God's glory working in the world around me.  And really, I am prepared for it to come any way God brings his message to me.

Do I believe that people are wrong for speaking and closing their eyes while the pray? No.  I may go back to doing that again when March is over.  I just think I've gotten into a habit of speaking to God words he already knows in ways that I've never considered. I'm trying to retrain myself. That's all.

What have I learned in the first week? I've learned that it is really hard to break habits and it is awkward to do around others when my practices are so habitual.  I can't wait for God to show me something more.  And he will because God is an extrovert waiting to talk to every person.