Praying With Your Eyes Open
True prayer is always about getting the “who” right. Who is doing the praying? You or God in you? - Richard Rohr
Have you ever wondered why so many people from different religious traditions seem to do the same thing when they pray?
In one way or another, we all bow our heads and either close our eyes, or focus on the floor, a prayer book, the six inches in front of our face, or some religious icon.
In a recent article on a website dedicated to Jewish theology, this explanation was offered:
The Bible teaches that bowing, as part of the service of God, elevates a human being. It is not degrading to bow before God, because bowing does not require that we give up our power and knowledge. Rather, in bowing we come to understand the truth of the limitations of our power and knowledge.
That makes so much sense to me, and it adds some deeper meaning to the ritual of bowing our heads and doing our best to stay focused on prayer.
But there is something about prayer and the rituals of prayer that makes me wonder how many of us truly pay attention to who is praying, as Fr. Richard Rohr posits in the quote at the top of this Devo.
And if the "who" doing the praying is the God in us and all around us, wouldn't it make sense to look up and around occasionally? If God is to be found in the world around us, wouldn't that be an even more meaningful acknowledgment of God on our part?
John Koenig wrote a beautiful piece on paying attention to the glory of the ordinary and said this about praying with our heads up:
Perhaps we should try to keep our eyes open while we pray, and look for the meaning hidden in things right in front of us in the sound of Tic Tacs rattling in a box, the throbbing ache of hiccups, and the punky smell that lingers on your hands after doing the dishes. Each is itself a kind of meditation, a reminder of what is real.
To be sure, there are countless ways to pray, and whatever ways we take the time during our day to connect with the Divine both within us and all around us is a good thing.
We offer our petitions to a God who knows what we will say before we say it, knows the desires of our heart before we can articulate them, and longs for us to have a conduit of communication and relationship open all of the time.
So it's appropriate to change things up occasionally when we pray. Consider praying by looking around, listening, feeling, and being.
The answers to our prayers are right before us or within us. The revelation we seek is in the ordinary things we experience every day. There is holiness in them and within us.
If it is the God within us doing the praying, then wouldn't a God who delights in the extraordinary nature of the ordinary world God loves want us to see the world as God sees it?
Spend time today praying with your head up and your eyes opened. Pay attention to what the God within and around you might be praying through you today.
May you discover the answers to your prayers---the ones you have prayed for and those that have remained silent in your heart. And. may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.