My vision of “How Prayer Works” was this: close my eyes, bow my head, and quickly (and formally) address God. Now, here’s where it gets dicey: don’t think for one second that God isn’t pleased with that kind of prayer. He is – He loves it! But I want to maybe approach this from a different way. We’ve all kind of bought into this idea that praying silently with eyes closed and head bowed it just about the best way to pray. Again, it’s good, but I want to show you something that was taught to me today that I believe will help take your prayer life to the next level:
Eyes Open Prayer.
The apostle Paul encourages the church at Thessalonica to,
“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thess. 5:16-18, ESV)
I’m kind of a simple guy. I read this and I say, “how in God’s green earth can I pray without ceasing?” So said to myself, “Maybe that’s not what Paul meant.” I’m human, right? I’m always looking for loopholes. So I looked at the Greek for this phrase without ceasing and I didn’t get too much relief. The word ἀδιαλείπτως literally means, without intermission, without interruption, incessantly. I was at an impasse. So I was again asking God how I could possibly walk around all day (or drive) with my head bowed and my eyes closed to keep up with this Scripture?
Here’s the news, you can’t…at least not in the head down, eyes shut kind of paradigm. However, I begin to see that maybe we’ve been taught (and I’ve certainly helped perpetuate) this idea that God ‘prefers’ one kind of prayer to another. I can’t explain and expound on how much untruth there is in that assumption. Ultimately, the simple definition of prayer is a conversation between me and my Father. When I talk to my wife, or someone at church, or at the store, I use a variety of mediums, right? Texting. Talking. Facebook. Notes. Cards. Body language. The same is true with God. Let me share a quick story.
I was in the gas station recently when this hit me. I was putting gas in my car and I just asked God to let me have the opportunity to share with someone today. To help someone. And I get out of the head down, eyes closed while pumping gas posture and begin to just kind of look around the station. I felt this desire to pray with my eyes open. I asked the same prayer again and immediately locked eyes with a sobbing mother. She had no money to gas up her car to get her kids to school. I was at another gas station and saw a girl sitting on the sidewalk crying. I asked what was wrong, and she asked me to pray for her. I did right there. I was able to help and God taught me a powerful lesson:
You can’t help the world around you if you’re not looking at it.
So I encourage you, start praying with eyes open. I still have my “head bowed, eyes closed” times, so keep those, but don’t believe that’s the only way to pray. Start praying while you’re in line to check out at the store. Start praying while you’re waiting for your food at the res truant. Start praying while you’re sitting in your office. Observe what’s going on around you, ask God to show you someone who needs the love of Jesus today.
It’s a simple but profound thing, but it’ll change your life, and with God’s help it will eternally impact someone else’s life.