Last updated on November 30th, 2019
Everyone raise your heads, open your eyes, and let us pray. Doesn’t sound too familiar does it? This probably does. Everyone bow your heads, close your eyes, and let us pray. But do we need to close our eyes when praying? Would you ever pray with your eyes open?
Why do we close our eyes and bow our heads to pray?
It’s possible it could be based on examples in scripture. Let’s observe some verses. 1 Samuel 1:13 states, “As for Hannah, she was speaking in her heart, only her lips were moving, but her voice was not heard. So Eli thought she was drunk.” Here we see one physical description. Lips moving in prayer. Is this prescriptive? It’s an example of someone we have praying, but still, it’s only a description of what they were doing, not necessarily a command of what to do.
Another example we have is Jesus. Matthew 26:39 states, “And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Note that Jesus fell to his face before he prayed, so he bowed in prayer. And with his face down, would it be unlikely his eyes were open? Possibly. But again, this is just a description. Though it being an example in scripture, should you take it as a command?
1 Timothy 2:8 states, “Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.” Here we see an instruction to pray lifting up holy hands. One has a stronger case in saying this is prescriptive versus the other two examples. But I know one can ask if it’s really necessary for one to always raise their hands in prayer? And what about the people who can’t raise their hands at all, are their prayers invalid? Surely not.
Can I pray with my eyes open?
So we have these descriptions one can debate if they’re prescriptions. I imagine there’s other examples I didn’t include, but I’m not aware of any verse that states to close your eyes to pray. So do we need to close our eyes when praying? Maybe it doesn’t matter. Perhaps the main point however you communicate to God, eyes open or closed, hands raised or clasped together, mouth moving or silent thoughts, the important thing is that you’re directing your attention and petitions to God.
Peace to all those who are in Christ.