I have been wondering lately why we pray with our eyes closed. This question has fascinated me for years. When I was little, I always thought it was because seeing God would blind you and God was present in the prayers of the church. When I got older I thought that I would try keeping my eyes open so that I could see or experience God more fully. But I have never found out exactly why we keep our eyes closed as a general rule. Is it reverence to the God to whom we pray? Is it because we think that this fulfills the clause of private prayer? Perhaps, someone once thought that if no one watched the Pharisee pray, they would not be praying wrongly and so instead of the Pharisee going elsewhere to pray in private; the people around him closed their eyes. redeeming not by fixing the wrong action, but your participation in the wrong action perhaps? But if the Pharisee was still looking for attention, would it matter to God if no one actually gave them that attention?
And the covering of the head… Men can’t, women must. In the church that I grew up in, the covering that we were expected to have was hair. Women had long hair. to cover the head before God, and men had short hair to uncover their head before God. In fact, my father was not allowed to help with AWANA, a Christian kids club that takes place during the adult prayer and service on Wednesdays. He wasn’t allowed to help because he had long hair. If you wanted to serve in our church, in any capacity as a man, your hair could touch your ears. In other churches, women place a doily like covering over their head before the service, some even all the time.
At least the head covering one has some Biblical basis. The idea of closing your eyes while you pray is not established in the Bible. Some prayed with eyes closed. Jesus prayed with His eyes raised to the Heavens and open. Some prayed while they were prostrated on the ground. Most Christians who know this say that the closing of the eyes is simply to keep us from distractions. To concentrate. James Gregory Crofford debates whether or not we should abandon or prohibit the practice, but ends in saying that it simply points beyond itself to our God and we should be thankful for the practices that bring us closer to God.
I agree, for me, I still like to pray with my eyes open. If I am blinded by God’s glory then I’ll be happy that is the last thing that I saw. But I also won’t think twice about the people who pray with their eyes wide shut. We each have different paths that we need to take to get closer to God and to let God in. Eyes closed, eyes open, sitting, standing, kneeling? Do you really think that God hears one more than the other?